What the UMC can learn from the GOP health care debacle

The GOP just doesn’t care about health care and the well-being of millions. And the so-called “orthodox” portion of the UMC doesn’t care about anything but getting their way. As for what is Jesus-like about that, I am unable to say. It’s over now. The Senate Republicans, hopelessly divided, can no longer dream of passing [Read More…]

Musings on Texas Bathroom Bills: The Universal Need to Urinate and Defecate

May those who think they are doing good and being “biblical” by supporting these unimaginably cruel Texas Bathroom Bills take the time to reconsider and repent in the name of our shared humanity. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: The Texas Legislature is considering regulating who uses what restroom. Lawyers and law enforcement say this is a non-issue because [Read More…]

Holy relics, skepticism and the power of shared liturgy

 I am a hearty skeptic of such things as Holy Relics. I dismiss them as superstitious, as ways to make money off the ignorant and uninformed, as the acts of charlatans trying to squeeze even more money out of the desperately poor. Maybe I am wrong about their purpose. Our recent cruise of northern Europe [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: do you believe anything in the Bible is true?

I believe Bible is true. But that doesn’t mean it is historical in the sense that it records verifiable historical events nor does the truth of the Holy Scriptures make those words reliable scientific textbooks. Ms. Thomas, Is there any part of the Bible that you DO think is literal? So far you’ve stated that [Read More…]

Unanswered Prayers, God’s Silence and the Demand for the Instantly Miraculous

We demand in our prayers instant healing, instant riches, instant love, instant solutions to all our problems. We insist God intervene consistently with miraculous answers to all human dilemmas. A few weeks ago, I attempted to answer this question: What good is prayer, in a practical sense?  When I try to pray for the nation [Read More…]

The lives of the rich and privileged: a Christian conundrum

We are currently in St. Petersberg, Russia. This is the city that Peter the Great, rich and privileged, built. I don’t want to dismiss his accomplishments, which are impressive. But Peter himself didn’t build this city on an unwelcoming swamp out of nothingness. “There are pickpockets waiting at the top of steps. Hold your valuables [Read More…]

What if Adam had beaten up the serpent? Questions Children Ask

What would have happened if the story of Adam and the serpent had a different ending? What if Adam had said a solid “no” to evil? Kids ask the darndest questions. Previously, I tackled the question from a five-year-old granddaughter, “How do we know God is real? How do we know he’s not someone that [Read More…]

Politics, world travel and a universalist faith

My ten-year-old grandson is already a universalist. I suspect he’ll never understand the way the Evangelical Christians insist that those who don’t “accept Jesus into their hearts” will see God condemn them to hell.   [Note: Jet lag still horrible and not sleeping. But wanted to get some observations out in the first leg of [Read More…]

How Do We Know the Bible is True? Questions Children Ask

We take the horrifying stories in the Bible, water them down to make them palatable to children, and then teach them as “The Bible tells me so” truth because we say the Bible is true. Kids ask the darndest questions. Previously, I tackled the question from a five-year-old granddaughter, “How do we know God is [Read More…]

Let’s be fair, UMC, and exclude ALL the unclean, not just the homosexuals

Jesus broke the rules of the holiness code, rendering himself ritually unclean, with great regularity. We want a cheap holiness code, not the one Jesus taught and modeled Sex life examination mandated to exclude the unclean With Judicial Council Ruling on Petition 1343, various Boards of Ordained Ministry are going to be required to make a [Read More…]