The First Source: Direct Experience

In 1962, only a couple of years after I was born, pollsters found that 2% of Americans claimed to have had a “mystical experience” of God. In 1976...that number had risen to 31% of the population.... By 2009, 48% of Americans confessed that they had had a mystical encounter with the divine. ...Not everyone who has experienced [the Sacred] afresh is an evangelical, fundamentalist, or Pentecostal. Indeed, they hail from many sorts of faiths.... What if the 1970s were not simply an evangelical rev … [Read more...]

Everything’s A Miracle

(Tim Stafford, Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern Day Experiences of God's Power , 2012, 219 pages.) This book review is a sponsored post that is part of the Patheos Book Club. Chat with Tim Stafford about his new book and share your own experiences on Wednesday, July 25, from 2-3 pm EST, at the Book Club. As I reflected on Tim Stafford's book about miracles both contemporary and biblical, a quote from Annie Dillard came to mind from her book For the Time Being: There were no formerly hero … [Read more...]

Decentering Jesus: My Journey to Unitarian Universalism

When I was 12, the most salient books on my parents' shelves were two red-bound volumes, The Case of Leon Trotsky and Not Guilty. These made up the report of the Dewey Commission of Inquiry into the Moscow Trials. I never read them with the wide-eyed fascination I brought to books like Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, but I thought of them in the way in which other children thought of their family's Bible: they were books that radiated redemptive truth and moral splendor. If I were a really … [Read more...]

Simplify! Living More Abundantly with Less Stuff in Less Space

(Will Davis, Jr., Enough: Finding More by Living with Less, 2012, 232 pages.) This book review is a sponsored post that is part of the Patheos Book Club. When I was first asked to review this book, my first thought was, "Great. I've already read it!" However, I was mistakenly thinking of another good book titled "Enough" by an author whose first name is also "Will": Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess by Will Samson (from back in 2009). Reflecting on this duplicate title reminded me of anot … [Read more...]

25 of My Favorite Quotations…in no particular order

“The religious quest is not about discovering ‘the truth’ or ‘the meaning of life,’ but about living as intensely as possible here and now. The idea is not to latch onto some superhuman personality or to ‘get to heaven’ but to discover how to be fully human.” ~Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will neve … [Read more...]

Highlights from Jesus Seminar on the Road in D.C.

For regular readers, with this post I will have finally had a chance to share all my notes from the various events I have attended in recent months. The following are from the one-day Jesus Seminar on the Road workshop back in March in Washington, D.C.  Joanna Dewey "The Social World of the Roman Empire and its Christian Communities" Note: Joanna Dewey is the Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr. Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. A … [Read more...]

Ellen Davis: An Eco-friendly Bible Scholar You Should Know

I recently had the opportunity to attend a morning workshop with Ellen Davis on "Honest Grief and Realistic Hope: Teaching and Preaching about Creation in 2012." Ellen is the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School.She is perhaps best know for her excellent book Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2009):This book examines the theology and ethics of land use, es … [Read more...]

How To Lead a Congregational Discernment Process

Discernment was a major emphasis of my spiritual direction training at San Francisco Theological Seminary. The following is adapted from my coursework, and is based on a congregational discernment process that I have used in the past and continue to refine.Ground Rules (adapted from Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, MN)You don’t get to complain about what you’re not willing to help fix. Every vision/passion has to have someone’s name on it. Week OneWhat aspects of this congr … [Read more...]

There Is No “God Particle”

According to The New York Times (and many other media outlets), Physicists working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider said Wednesday that they had discovered a new subatomic particle that looks for all the world like the Higgs boson, a potential key to an understanding of why elementary particles have mass and indeed to the existence of diversity and life in the universe. I've been following this development with interest: Joe Incandela, of the University of California, Santa Barbara...called t … [Read more...]

From Independence Day to Interdependence

(Logan Mehl-Laituri, Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience, 2012, 239 pages.) This book review is a sponsored post that is part of the Patheos Book Club. One of my heroes is Clarence Jordan (1912-1969). In college, he began to experience cognitive dissonance between his patriotic love of country and his religious beliefs. He had been studying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and unexpectedly during ROTC calvary practice, Jesus' command to … [Read more...]