Native American Spiritualities: Appropriation and Reciprocity

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka , and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made … [Read more...]

Water Communion: “A River Runs through It”

Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the … [Read more...]

Is The Book of James Proto-Marxist?

If someone is naked, starving, and wrongly imprisoned, your faith and beliefs are barely relevant, if at all, to their plight. As The Book of James argued two millennia ago, “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”I explore this idea further in my new post at [The Hardest Question] on “Luther Was Wrong: Behavior Is Believable”: http://thq.wearesparkhouse.org/featured/ordinary23bepistle   The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francis … [Read more...]

Jesus Getting Caught with His Compassion Down

Jesus is usually so mind-blowingly impressive that we can forget he did not emerge from the womb fully grown. In his encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus’ heart seems hardened when he refuses to heal a child in need. But isn’t Pharaoh supposed to be the one with the hardened heart?!I explore this dynamic in my new post at [The Hardest Question] on “Jesus Getting Caught with His Compassion Down”: http://thq.wearesparkhouse.org/featured/ordinary23bgospel The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a … [Read more...]

En La Lucha: (Dis)covery, (Im)migration, and Social Justice

As a religious people who affirm human compassion, advocate for human rights, and seek justice, we must never make the mistake of confusing a legal right with a moral right. The forced removal of Native Americans from their land and onto reservations was legal. The importation and sale of African slaves was legal. South African apartheid was legal. The confiscation of the property of Jews at the beginning of the Nazi regime was legal. The Spanish Inquisition was legal. Crucifying Jesus was … [Read more...]

On Bullshit: Todd Akin Did Not “Misspeak”

Representative Todd Akin, a six-term member of Congress and the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, said on Sunday: "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare [pregnancies from rape]. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."These comments produced a firestorm of backlash, prompting Rep. Akin to release a statement saying, "I misspoke in this interview." Reading between the lines, it seems important to me not … [Read more...]

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...]