The Life Tradition versus the Death Tradition in Christianity

ashes

A man died. The people who knew him gathered to share memories. Finally, a portrait was commissioned. But as generations passed, the painting did not seem fine enough. The heirs of the portrait, who had become wealthy, created a new golden frame, immense, carved with motifs from the portrait and encrusted with jewels. People began to feel that the old portrait of that dark fellow with the haunting eyes pulled the effect down. As it began to peel from age, they extended the frame inward. One day … [Read more...]

Becoming a Buddha, not a Buddhist

Dharma

This post is the second in a four-part series on “A Journey with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna.” Looking ahead briefly to the next post, liberals sometimes get anxious when Jesus is mentioned because of the many ways his message has been manipulated, abused, and used to harm others. As the old exasperated prayer goes, “Jesus, save me from your followers!” However, in my next post I hope to offer some different, potentially surprising angles on Jesus — "Rabbi Yeshu … [Read more...]

A Journey with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna

Hindus

The Rigveda from the Hindu tradition is the oldest religious text still in continuous use, dating to more than 3,000 years ago. One of its well-known passages proclaims, “The wise speak of what is One in many ways.” In that spirit, the Indologist Wendy Doniger has joked that the only way to briefly answer the question, “Are Hindus monotheists or polytheists?” is to say yes “(which is actually the answer to most either/or questions about Hinduism.)” On one hand, there are lots of gods (which suppo … [Read more...]

“Atheism for Lent”: The Spiritual Practice of Doubt

A

A few months ago, I wrote a post on “Poetically Dwelling on the Earth as a Mortal,” which was in honor of my favorite undergraduate philosophy professor, James Edwards. Dr. Edwards was the most well-known, articulate, and matter-of-fact of atheist at my college. And suffice it to say that in the late 1990s in South Carolina there were very few “out” atheists. I had a few good friends in high school that were self-professed agnostics, but Dr. Edwards was — if not the first atheist I knew well — th … [Read more...]

Evolutionary Religion

TGFE

A tradition has arisen in many progressive congregations of having a worship service near Charles Darwin’s birthday (February 12) with an annual focus on the ways that evolution impacts, influences, and informs the practice of religion in the twenty-first century. A related tradition around Darwin’s birthday is an annual surge in “Religion versus Science” stories across all forms of media. For the most part, these “Religion versus Science” debates produce more heat than light.The most promine … [Read more...]

“Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall”: Claiming Our Social Justice Story

Zinn

Monday, January 21, 2013 was a High Holy Day in our nation’s "civil religion.” The second inauguration for our country’s first black president was itself highly symbolic, but that day in January had the additional symbolism of being both Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the anniversary month of Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation. What a stunning three-step sweep of history from President Lincoln’s 1863 executive order freeing all slaves, one hundred year later to Dr. King’s 1963 dr … [Read more...]

“Help, Thanks, Wow,” Part 3 of 3

Lamott

This post is the third and final part in a series of three posts inspired by Anne Lamott's book Help, Thanks, Wow Ann Lamott’s initial claim was that, “Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’” But more than a decade later, she wisely added a third essential prayer: “Wow.” And cultivating a prayerful sense of awe at the stunning beauty of the universe is another spiritual practice about which many religious progressives can agree. … [Read more...]

“Help, Thanks, Wow,” Part 2 of 3

Lamott

This post is the second in a series of three posts inspired by Anne Lamott's book Help, Thanks, Wow The second of Lamott’s “three essential prayers” is thanks. Religious progressives find ourselves on more universally safe ground here on the value of expressing gratitude. As the 13th-century mystic Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank You,’ that would suffice.” And choosing to emphasize the positive and focus on the good parts of your life can be transf … [Read more...]

“Help, Thanks, Wow,” Part 1 of 3

Lamott

This post is the first in a series of three posts inspired by Anne Lamott's book Help, Thanks, Wow Anne Lamott is a social justice activist and bestselling author, known for her autobiographical books. I first encountered her through a book she published more than a decade ago titled Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, which helped establish her reputation as a provocative and hilarious writer on spirituality. From that book, one of the lines that resonated most with me was her c … [Read more...]

Why Jung Threw the Yijing (or I Ching) and Why Might You?

Yijing

This year the Chinese New Year will begin on what we call January 31st on our Gregorian (or “Western”) calendar. And when I was considering a good date to explore both the history and potential contemporary meaning of the I Ching, one of China’s contributions to the classics of world religious literature, a time close to the Chinese New Year seemed auspicious. And when considering criteria such as “longevity, domestic significance, and global spread,” scholars rank the I Ching in the same league … [Read more...]


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