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Showing posts from February, 2012

It Will Be Solved in the Walking (Bruce Epperly)

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We began our Lenten Journey a week ago with Ash Wednesday.  This is a season of reflection and preparation, and many persons focus in on their relationship with God and neighbor by embracing spiritual practices.  Bruce Epperly, a regular contributor to Ponderings on a Faith Journey, returns during this Lenten season to offer guidance for the journey.  Today he brings to us a word about the spiritual value of walking, making use of reflections on a Martin Sheen movie.  Take a read, offer your thoughts, take a walk.  As for me, I enjoy getting out in the neighborhood for a walk, but don't discipline myself enough to do this as I should.  Bruce has encouraged me to get moving!

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It Will be Solved in the Walking:  Reflections on Martin Sheen’s “The Way” and the Lenten Spiritual Journey Bruce G. Epperly
I am a walker.  Every morning at sunrise, I walk a few miles and most nights I hit the trail for a few more.  My best ideas for books, sermons, and blogs co…

What Are the Jews?

Martin Marty asks a rather intriguing question:  What are the Jews?  Rather, Marty points us to Jon D. Levenson, one of the foremost Jewish scholars in the country.   I got to hear Dr. Levenson speak on the question of Abrahamic religions in Santa Barbara a number of years ago.  He's a very thought provoking person.  Anyway, Marty uses a recent review by Levenson of another book on Jewish identity to point out the complexity of the question.  Oh, and note how the title of the post is phrased.  Offer your thoughts -- but a warning.  I will delete comments that are anti-Semitic or racist.   **************************************************** 
Sightings  2/27/2012 What Are the Jews? -- Martin E. Marty “What exactly are the Jews?” You’d think “we’d” know after their 350 years in America. “What are the Jews?” You’d think top Jewish scholars would know. You’d think Jews would know. No one is sure. Maybe anti-Semites think they know, but . . . . Top Jewish scholar Jon D. Levenson of Harvard …

Open Wide the Gates -- A Sermon

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Preachers are counseled to know their audience, but sometimes we find ourselves realizing that even with our best intentions, we really don't know how to speak or what to speak.  I was invited to preach at an AIDS memorial service sponsored by a group of churches in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, MI.  I was invited to preach in part in the hope that my congregation might follow and join in the service.  I was invited to do this even though I admitted that I don't have any really experience with persons with AIDS.  I can't say that I've even known anyone with AIDS (at least not knowingly), let alone has died of AIDS related illnesses.  Although I have committed myself to joining forces with those opening the doors of the church to the LGBT community, this is still rather new territory for me.  And so when I went to the pulpit last night, and across the congregation, finding only one familiar face, I found myself at a loss.  I'd already written the sermon, and deli…

Politics, Theology, and the Environment

In recent days, politics and theology have become intertwined, with presidential candidates debating the theological veracity of their opponents.  The most telling example was Rick Santorum’s charge that President Obama has embraced a “phony theology” that isn’t in line with what the Bible teaches.  Elsewhere I addressed this charge, noting that to say that something is phony is to raise questions of a person’s religious integrity.  When the “charge” was first made, the former Senator didn’t elaborate, but a few days later he backed off a bit and spoke of the President’s supposedly radical environmentalist world view that he believes is rooted in a theology (world view) that lacks biblical support.  In this clarifying statement about what he meant by a “phony theology” that lacks biblical warrant, Santorum made the following statement:  “That’s why I was talking about energy. This idea that man is here to serve the earth, as opposed to husband its resources and being good stewards of th…

The Predicament of Belief -- A Review

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THE PREDICAMENT OF BELIEF: Science, Philosophy, and Faith. By Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2011.  X + 184 pages.
                The word “apologetics” might not be the best descriptor for The Predicament of Belief, but that may have less to do with the intent of the authors, and more to do with the accumulated baggage from other apologetic enterprises.  The Predicament of Belief is not an attempt to accumulate evidence that demands a verdict; rather, like Schleiermacher’s Speeches to the Cultured Despisers the authors of this book seek to present theism as a reasonable and viable understanding of ultimate reality to an increasingly skeptical audience.    
                Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp are scholars and persons of faith.  Both have impressive academic credentials.  Clayton is Ingraham Professor of Theology and Dean of the Claremont School of Theology, along with serving as the founding Provost of newly born Claremont Lincoln Un…

The Muslim Luther and Reformation -- Sightings

I continue to be fascinated by Islam and its place in the world.   For this very reason I worked to invite Saeed Khan, a faculty member at Wayne State University, to lead a series of presentations on Islam at the church.  This series has led to a new set of informal conversations about Islam at a local coffee house.   Why should we be interested in Islam?  Well, along with Christianity, Islam makes up more than two-thirds of the world's population.  It is diverse in race and ethnicity and in culture.  Many non-Muslim observers have wondered -- will Islam experience a reformation like Protestantism?  That question is taken up in a Sightings post by Mun'im Sirry, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago.  I invite you to read and engage in a conversation about Islam and how it fits into our modern/post-modern world.  To what degree will events and ideas of this age penetrate Islam and transform it -- either positively or negatively?   Consider this -- one of the outgrowths …

It's the Water -- A Lectionary Reflection

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Genesis 9:8-17
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15


It’s the Water, 
and a Lot More
It’s the beginning of Lent, a journey that takes us from temptation to temptation, from grief to death.  It’s a time of reflection and for letting go of distractions and obstructions.  Some of us do better at this than others.  I must confess to a lack of discipline in these things, and Lent has been no different than any other season.  But the invitation to allow God access to our lives so that we might be reconciled and renewed is there.  Here is an invitation to join Jesus in the wilderness, where trust in God is essential. 
Reference is made in each of these lectionary texts to water, which as we know is the foundation for life.  Without it life is, it appears, impossible.  This is why astronomers search the heavens looking for planets that might have water, and thus the promise of life.  We know that our carbon-based bodies are made up primarily of water, and so without water there’s little left except chemical…