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…]

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…]

Do we want tight doctrinal standards or do we want to follow Jesus?

After spending much of 2014 and 2015 visiting churches, I have become increasingly aware that people flock to church groups with tight doctrinal standards. As many note, these still show growth both in the US and overseas. The more theologically progressive mainline denominations with looser doctrinal boundaries show declining numbers. The more rapidly growing churches rarely ordain women [Read More…]

Hypocrisy, shame, politics and religion

Hypocrisy is the ultimate death blow, whether it be politics or religion. And in the US, the two are inextricably linked together. Shame on us both. From the full article reprinted below, this comment leaped off the page: One Republican bundler who has worked closely with the Republican National Committee in the past was incensed, [Read More…]

Right-handers=Good; Left-handers=Evil

The dominant world enriches itself endlessly when it makes room for the less-dominant to have a voice. Those on the margins: left-handed, minority, poor, mentally and physically challenged, non-cis-gendered—anything that is different from the dominant, mainstream culture—have voices that must be heard and embraced. Right-handers comprise 85-90% of human population. Many tools—table saws, scissors, manual [Read More…]

The Shack: a journey into grief and the questions of good and evil

That the love of God means the freedom for people to make their unimpeded choices for good or evil permeates The Shack. [Note: The Shack, based on the book by William P Young, is about to be released. The book caused enormous controversy among many Christians when it first came out. An editor, Chris Fenoglio, from [Read More…]

Help! What is a theocracy?

As messy as these multiple forms of beliefs have become, a theocracy would insist upon one, and only one, of those as the “correct” belief system. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: What is a Theocracy?  Does our Constitution allow for a Christian Theocracy? Democracy means “rule by the people” as “demos”=“the people.” Theocracy means “rule by God” [Read More…]

Walking, weight loss and wishful thinking

These shoes have seen at least 800,000 steps since September of this year, probably more than a million steps in the two years I have owned them. I recently took them in to get new soles after I realized that I was tilting while walking on them. In September, I had my “aha” moment. It [Read More…]

The church then and today: the need to exclude defines us

Saturday was Sicily. We wandered in the small villages that Francis Ford Coppola inadvertently made famous by filming parts of The Godfather movie series in them. We were making our way to a church where one of the scenes was filmed.  Along the way, we saw this arch. The guide told us that we now [Read More…]