With The Zimzum of Love and his new Oprah Network TV show, Rob Bell broadens his focus but it’s all spiritual

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As Rob and Kristen Bell’s book, “The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage”, blankets the country and Rob’s new TV show premieres on Oprah’s network tonight, has Rob Bell become a self-help guru and abandoned his evangelical mission of preaching the gospel? I have been asking myself variations of this question for years, while writing in the space between spirituality and self-help. The answer is that there is no separation. Talking about how to live life fully and honestly and helpfully and robustly and ethically is talking about the gospel. And talking about faith without concern for how to live life is to some extent empty words. [Read more...]

Vatican’s vendetta investigation of American women religious completes under Pope Francis, with praise instead

Sister Simone Campbell of "Nuns On The Bus" speaking in lower Manhattan. Source: 2012 Thomas Altfather Good

What a difference a few years makes. With the final Vatican report of Cardinal Law’s vendetta investigation of American women religious, this ugly episode is finally put to rest. He and Pope Benedict’s team really should have finished it before they left power if they wanted a different outcome. Now under Pope Francis, Fr. Jim [Read More...]

Sybil MacBeth’s The Season of the Nativity is a trove of ideas for fellow Advent extremists

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I’ve always loved Christmas. Growing up in an atheist ex-Christian household, though, the religious aspects of it were limited to: a small crèche on a side table which was never referenced or examined; a star ornament on the top of the Christmas tree; my mother’s occasional mentioning that Jesus was a Jew; and listening on [Read More...]

There Is No Other: The Radical Message of St. Francis in Jon Sweeney’s New Book

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At the beginning of his new book, When Saint Francis Saved The Church, Jon Sweeney warns that what is to follow will not support the “sentimental” rendering of St. Francis as a gentle animal-loving pacifist. But that’s a bit of a tease. It’s not that he paints a different picture; it’s that he paints one much larger and more significant. St. Francis’ gentle temperament, his interactions with nature, his willingness to work with enemies of the state: these are not the point. Rather, they are evidence of a much more radical one: a view of the world in which there is no Other. [Read more...]

Benjamin Corey’s “Undiluted” Calls Fundamentalists to Return to Fundamentals of Love and Openness

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“Undiluted” is more a personal testimonial than a theological treatise. It follows Corey as he encounters the authentic Jesus and struggles to follow Him, learning that this means changing his worldview from the black-and-white one his fundamentalist upbringing gave him. [Read more...]

Great Bible Intro Is That Much Better as E-textbook

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My own stint with an e-textbook startup last year taught me about the complexity of the format. It’s not enough to be a digital copy of a paper book, with perhaps bookmarks and highlighting. There are already plenty of e-readers for that. You need to offer layers of utility and connectivity that could drive a [Read More...]

Protestants Can Use Prayer Beads Too

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Freed from the Catholic premise of praying to the Virgin Mary, and from all fixed aspects of the structure, “A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads” explains how you can use bead counting as an aid for any kind of prayer. It can prompt you to focus on a sequence of things, or on the same thing deeply and repeatedly, or on nothing at all. [Read more...]

The Giver brings the timely dystopian novel fully and compellingly to life on screen

THE GIVER

What The Giver says, emphatically, is that emotions are part of our humanness, and that we cannot suppress the bad without also suppressing the good, and that the result of that suppression — living while asleep, being dead while alive — is no life at all. The movie is enjoyable on every level — its message, acting, cinematography, action. The differences from the novel are reasonable, and the film version expands on and perhaps exceeds the original in places. [Read more...]

From Dinner Church to Neighborhood Hub, Building Community Through Working Side by Side

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Working side by side making a meal, breaking bread, eating and sharing conversation around the dinner table, then cleaning up together creates community in a very real way. You get to know about each other, but there’s something much more profound going on. Deeply connected to the Judeo-Christian tradition is the idea of the sacred [Read More...]

Freedom from Struggle: Meditation To Ground You While You Work for the Liberation of Others — my talk at Wild Goose in NC 6/27 3pm

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If you’re coming to the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina June 26 – 29, or still considering whether to make the trip, just a heads-up that I will be offering a centering prayer-based presentation again this year; my topic is, “Freedom from Struggle: Meditation To Ground You While You Work for the Liberation of [Read More...]

Philip and the eunuch: A Reflection on Acts 8:36-38

"St. Philip talking with the Ethiopian eunuch"; Ann C. Chapin

Today’s daily meditation in Living Faith is one of mine. The reading is: As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into [Read More...]

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures: A Reflection on John 6:27

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Today’s daily meditation in Living Faith is one of mine. The reading is: Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. — John 6:27 It’s the bit before “I am the bread of life.” Here’s part of my reflection: [Read More...]

The Integrity of Creation

The Earth seen from Apollo 17 (NASA)

My science-loving atheist dad introduced me to the wonders of nature in our months-long summer camping vacations. I didn’t have the language then, and he didn’t use it, but he was showing me what awed him, what he saw as divine: canyons, redwoods, still mountain lakes. Several decades later, high in the Rockies at Estes [Read More...]

Pope Francis to Remind Conservatives Again Foot Washing Is About Humility Not Piety, and Not Patriarchy

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The guideline of only washing the feet of men was invented in 1955. 1955! Before that, washing the feet of women was not uncommon. It was traditionalists who changed and politicized things, to underscore their point about women being ineligible for the priesthood. Pope Francis, who embraces the servant leadership model to his core, is reminding us that this tradition is supposed to be about humility, not piety, and not patriarchy. [Read more...]


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