Never again, Auschwicz: Do Not Be Fooled–It Could Happen Here

Do not ever think that we, too, couldn’t have our Auschwitz. All it takes is one unaccountable, autocratic, loyalty-demanding leader. Never Again, Auschwitz I stood in the place that had once been a Jewish theater in Amsterdam. Bad enough as all Jews were by then excluded from regular stage activities and work. But when the Nazis showed up, they turned the Jewish haven at the time into a registration spot for deportation. I started weeping. I could not stop the... 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 and the Baltic Sea ports was not supposed to be a religious pilgrimage. Nonetheless, my husband and I are the moths to the flame when... 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 the information in Revelations is not to be taken literally and today the stories of Noah’s building the ark and Jonah are not true. I... 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 these days, I remember the many people who prayed for their lives during WWII. What use is prayer, at the doors of the gas chamber?... 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 close and do not buy from anyone.” So our guide, Alex, told us as we emerged from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersberg, Russia. We... 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 because we are little you tell us he’s real, but then when we’re older we find out he’s fake.” Then, we looked at a question... 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 our trip.] By late Saturday night, only six of us remained in this suburban London house: me, my husband, a son, his wife, and their... 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 real? How do we know he’s not someone that because we are little you tell us he’s real, but then when we’re older we find... 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 definite determination on whether or not an otherwise qualified candidate for ordained ministry is an unclean “practicing homosexual.” If the BOM determines that such candidate... Read more

How do we know God is real? Questions children ask

“How do we know God is real? How do we know he’s not someone that because we are little you tell us he’s real but then when we’re older we find out he’s fake?” Children ask the darndest questions! I confess: my child-rearing philosophy was along the lines of “benign neglect.”  I sought to resource my three sons with all they needed for life and health and mental, physical and spiritual stimulation, but then pretty well got out of the... Read more
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