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...]

STOP Making the Bible Something It Isn't

Harold Camping is 89-years-old, and he (allegedly) believes in earnest that the world will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011 -- only eight days from today. The problem is that far too many people believe him.In an interview with New York Magazine two days ago, Bloom spoke with apodictic certainty that, "God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all.... it is absolutely … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" by Norris Chumley

Norris Chumley, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality (HarperOne 2011), 196 pages.The entirety of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 consists of a three word exhortation from the apostle Paul to "pray without ceasing." Advocates of the "Jesus Prayer" -- most popular in Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity -- insist that this ancient spiritual practice is perhaps the most effective vehicle for making Paul's vision of c … [Read more...]