BOOK REVIEW: "Mother Teresa, CEO"

When you think back on the life of Mother Teresa, the first words that come to mind might be “Saint of Calcutta’s Slums” or “Caregiver to the Poorest of the Poor,” but, I suspect, that your first association with Mother Teresa is not "Chief Executive Officer" or "CEO." Nevertheless, Ruma Bose and Lou Faust, in their recent book Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership mount a case for us to consider what lessons we may be able to learn by viewing Mother Teresa’s life thr … [Read more...]

Jesus’ Seed Parable and Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Sunday, July 10, 2011)

I invite you to consider viewing Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower” — about a farmer sowing seeds — through the lens of the third chapter of Thomas Merton’s book New Seeds of Contemplation. Merton was a twentieth-century Roman Catholic monk, who lived in Kentucky and was a prolific writer.  I will share with you two separate excerpts from Merton’s words then briefly reflect on each one for some of the meaning I see in them for us today.Merton writes: Every moment and every event of every person’s li … [Read more...]

REVIEW: “Buddha Standard Time” by Lama Surya Das

(Lama Surya Das, Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now, HarperOne, 2011, 216 pages.)What time is it? Who decides? If I look at a cell phone, I am told 'AT&T Standard Time' or 'Verizon Standard Time.' To counterbalance or double-check this industry-approved time standard, I could look at my watch for a time that I calibrated myself, but I haven't worn a watch in more than a decade, and I don't know how to read a sundial! Moreover, I learned in high school … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity's Compassion for Animals

(Laura Hobgood-Oster, The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity's Compassion for Animals. Baylor University Press, 2010, 227 pages.)As a longtime owner of animals ranging from dogs to cats to rabbits (my wife and I currently own three cats and one dog and are on a list to adopt a second dog), I was pleased to be asked to review Laura Hobgood-Oster's new book which invites us to think theologically about animals. Also, our ethical approach as humans to our companion animals is one of the … [Read more...]

Lectionary Commentary: “Bring Many Names: Progressive Christianity on Trinity Sunday” (for June 19, 2011)

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso has written a wonderful children’s book called In God's Name that affirms the need to call God by many names:  Source of Life – Creator of Light –  Shepherd – Maker of Peace – My Rock – Healer – Redeemer – Ancient One – Comforter – Mother – Father – Friend.We call God by many names because we recognize the limits of our human language and that no one name for God can capture the fullness of God.  Sasso also reassures us at the end of her story that all of the individual … [Read more...]

By Whose Authority? (Progressive Christianity Symposium)

Editor's Note: This article is part of the symposium, "What Is Progressive Christianity?" presented by the newly launched Patheos Progressive Christian Portal and in partnership with the Wild Goose Festival (June 23-26). Like us on Facebook to receive today's best commentary on Progressive Christianity.I often begin any attempt to define Progressive Christianity by contrasting it with so-called “Orthodox Christianity.”  As a Progressive Christian, when I am presented with a theological ques … [Read more...]

Lectionary Commentary: “A Practical, Pragmatic, and Progressive Pentecost” (for June 12, 2011)

As some have joked, Christianity is not about “Twenty impossible things to believe before breakfast.” Instead, Christianity is a set of practices that cultivate habits of loving God and neighbor.  These practices help form a community of faith called the church that is centered on God's ways of love and mercy, justice and grace.The traditional Christian way of loving God is contemplative prayer: setting aside time and space each day to spend in God's loving presence.  Jesus often withdrew from … [Read more...]

Tweets from Brian McLaren in D.C.

Brian McLaren spoke tonight at Buffalo Billiards in D.C. to promote his latest book, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words. The following are my tweets from his talk:“Story: ‘God spoke to me that Richard Dawkins speaks truth.’ God of Jesus isn’t white or European. SHOULD be atheist about that.”“A lot of people don’t believe in God for good reason. They’re saying whatever’s out there has to be better than that.”“Afterlife in Egypt: only rich get afterlife — your best bet is … [Read more...]

Lectionary Commentary: “Progressive Christianity on Ascension Sunday”

The book of Acts reports that Jesus ascended to heaven forty days after the Resurrection.  Accordingly, a tradition developed of celebrating Ascension Day forty days after Easter Sunday.  That means Ascension Day is always celebrated on a Thursday.  But many churches that gather for worship only once a week, move this festival to the following Sunday — celebrating “Ascension Sunday” instead of “Ascension Day.”  So, for most Christians Ascension Day itself is usually “just another Thursday” with t … [Read more...]

Lectionary Commentary: “A Progressive Christian Reading of John 14:6” (for Sunday, May 22, 2011)

I have a long and complicated relationship with today’s Gospel lesson, especially verse six: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  The first time I remember reading this verse, I found it comforting. A few years later, I came to be haunted by the implications of this verse for other religions.  Recently, I have found this same verse freshly inspiring. Let me start at the beginning. Part One: Pre-Critical The first memory … [Read more...]