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Showing posts from October, 2012

Postcards from Claremont – 10 – Teaching from a Process Perspective (Bruce Epperly)

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Process Theology has made a major mark of Mainline Protestantism.  It  has offered a methodology and framework for progressive/liberal theologians to engage the question of God in a way that is in sync with modern scientific views, allowing God to be active even while rejecting the idea of an interventionist God.  It focuses more on divine immanence than divine transcendence, though it doesn't eliminate the latter.  Bruce Epperly is one of the most insightful expositors of this tradition, and he's been in Claremont this fall teaching Process Theology at one of the centers of Process thought.  Whether or not you're a process devotee, and I'm not really, I think we can learn from the method.  In this post, Bruce's 10th from Claremont, he speaks of the influence of Process thought on his teaching style.  I think you'll find it interesting and perhaps persuasive! P.S. Bruce has had to curtail his teaching assignments this week as he's been holed up in his apartm…

Energion Roundtable Question 11 -- Libya, the Middle East, and American Presence

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We’re now within days of the election, and a large storm (a literal one) has thrown a wrench into the electoral politics.  But that’s not the question of the week posed by the editor of Energion Publications  to our round table.  This question focuses on Libya and the attack on the consulate.
One of the major news stories of the last couple of weeks has been the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the deaths of the ambassador and three other people there. In response, some have suggested that America is portraying weakness in the Middle East (and elsewhere) and that we need to maintain a strong military, or increase what we now have, and take a stronger stand against regimes and terrorist groups that oppose our policies and/or our interests.
As a Christian and an American, what do you think our approach should be? How does your faith inform your answer to this question?


Regarding the consulate attack, if I tried to deal with it directly I’d end up in the weeds dealing with thi…

Giants Win in 4!

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As a major storm bears down on the East Coast of the United States and as the nation ponders to whom it will entrust the stewardship of the nation in next week's elections, baseball may seem somewhat trivial.  But, baseball is an expression of national identity.  It may not be as popular as it once was, but it remains the nation's pastime.
Last night the San Francisco Giants won their second World Championship in three years and seventh in franchise history.  I was born the year the Giants moved west from New York to the City by the Bay.  I watched with hope every year, believing this would be the year.  It took fifty-two years and four tries to win that first elusive trophy.  Willie Mays won one New York, but his San Francisco teammates Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Jim Ray Hart, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bonds, and more didn't taste victory as Giants.  More often than not they watched the Dodgers win.  I got to go to the 89 series, which was interrupted by a…

Abundant Joy and Overflowing Generosity

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2 Corinthians 8:1-12

How do you see the world?  Is the glass half empty or is it half full?  Is the economy getting better or is it getting worse?  Is your consumer’s confidence quotient going up or going down?  Is there an abundance or scarcity?
Jesus was confronted with a large crowd of people.  They were hungry and there weren’t any McDonalds or Krogers nearby.  Jesus’ disciples got worried and told Jesus to send everyone away, before their hunger got the better of them.  But Jesus decided to have his disciples feed the crowd.  So he asked them – what foodstuffs do you have? They  responded – well there seem to be a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  Jesus said – that’ll do, and everyone went home satisfied with their meal!  As they Scripture says – With God all things are possible.
  The Macedonian churches were experiencing poverty and distress, but they also were experiencing “abundant joy.”  And as a result, they overflowed with a “wealth of generosity.”  When Paul took u…

The Swift Rise and Apparent Demise of “Jesus’ Wife” -- Sightings

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From Jesus Christ Superstar to the Last Temptation of Christ and on to The Da Vinci Code inquiring minds have wanted to know -- did Jesus have a wife and kids?  For some the question is blasphemous because somehow sex is linked to sin, so if Jesus is without sin then surely he couldn't have been married.  For others it's an irrelevant question -- there's no biblical or even historical record/account to suggest he was married (nor that he wasn't if you want to go by an argument of silence).  For still others the idea that Jesus had a wife is intriguing and maybe even humanizing.  So, when word came about a major textual discovery suggesting Jesus had a wife, it caught the attention of the world.  Now, the controversy has died down quite a bit, in part because scholars have raised questions about the genuineness of the manuscript fragment that led some to imagine the possibility.  Two Ph.D. candidates, Trevor Thompson and David Kneip update us on the status -- in case yo…

Holy Nomad -- A Review

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HOLY NOMAD: The Rugged Road to Joy.  By Matt Litton.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 2012.  207 pp.

           I often use the term journey to describe my own faith, and I’m not alone.  Being a person of faith is not a static thing – or at least it shouldn’t be static.  Our faith is intended to be organic and growing.  The term nomad isn’t one I normally turn to, but it has biblical roots.  Abraham was a nomad.  Deuteronomy speaks of him as “a wandering Aramean was my father” (Deut. 26:5).  The people of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness before settling down in Canaan.  Jesus was an itinerant preacher, who had no place to lay his head.
       The nomadic image drives the story line in Matt Litton’s book about pursuing a road that leads to joy.  We often are, he suggests, nomads stuck in a basement suffering from “Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.”  That is, people are religious but not experiencing joy.  They’re stuck in place and resist the journey that leads to joy.  Like the…

When Wilt Thou Save the People? A Lectionary Reflection

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Jeremiah 31:7-9
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

When Wilt Thou Save the People?
The title of my reflection comes from Godspell, because it expresses the longings present in this week’s readings.   There is a longing, a desire, to see God’s reign fully realized, the day of salvation, that permeates our hopes and dreams.  We look forward to that day when lion and lamb lay down beside each other, when the peace of God is truly embodied.    Such is the message embedded in the opening stanza of “God Save the People”
When wilt thou save the people?
Oh God of mercy when?
The people, Lord, the people
Not thrones and crowns,
But men
Flowers of thy heart
O God are they
Let them not pass like weeds away
Their heritage, a sunless day
God save the people
Not the powers and principalities, but the people, men and women, who are in the words of the song, “flowers of thy heart.”  Don’t let them pass away like weeds.  Instead, save the people. The texts of the day speak of an ingathering of the people, of a high pries…

Postcards from Claremont – 9 – The Joys and Challenges of Bi-coastal Living (Bruce Epperly)

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Living on two coasts can make for an interesting life.  It's three time zones and thousands of miles.  Air travel isn't as quick and painless as it was before 9-11.  But, Bruce Epperly has been living bi-coastally this fall as he teaches at Claremont.  In today's post he shares his experiences of living in this way, inviting us to join him on the journey.

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Postcards from Claremont – 9 –  The Joys and Challenges of Bi-coastal Living Bruce G. Epperly
A few minutes ago, as I was getting my midmorning coffee at Claremont School of Theology’s Edgar Center, one of the students asked, “What are you doing this weekend?”  I had to think twice.  You see, my life is a boomerang as I travel between two coasts this fall.  Nearly every other weekend, I’m asked to preach or lead a retreat in Southern California.  The other weekend, I’m off to the East Coast, sometimes via a stop in the middle where I give a talk or retreat.  I must say that the rhythm is dynamic and varied a…

Christian Bias? A Sociology Study on Gay Parents -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

The Enlightenment Credo is summed up by Joe Friday -- "Just the facts, Ma'am."  There is this belief that we can, as humans, step out of our own shoes and look at the world with unbiased eyes.  It was a belief that drove the Founders of the movement that became my denomination.  It's a Baconian model of science that suggests that we can collect data, and that the data will reveal its meaning to us -- without interpretation.  As with the reading of Scripture, the Constitution, or any other set of data, interpretation involves bringing certain presuppositions to the table.   As a Historian, I've tried to look at my subject as objectively as possible, and perhaps because I have little emotional investment in the people and movement I study (I'm not attracted to the Nonjuror vision of the church -- they're not my people!), I can look at things pretty objectively, or at least I think I can.  History is often classified as part of the social sciences, as is soci…