Jan 2001 – Pilgrims, tourists, and wise travelers in search of God

In The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau uses pilgrimage as a metaphor for any journey aimed at finding something that matters deeply to the traveler. He sees pilgrimages as journeys of risk and renewal. He reminds us that in both spiritual and physical journeys, going beyond what’s familiar and predictable can be valuable. In the Christian year, “epiphany,” which means an appearance of a god, refers to a season that commemorates the Wise Men’s visit to Jesus, but it’s an unfamiliar word to many churchgoers.

Feb 2001 – Fundamentalism in the church

Many Christians who are up-to-date and well-informed about other areas of life seem to wear blinders when they look at the Bible and Christian faith and history. I’m afraid they’re a greater danger to the church and the world than the so-called heresies they claim to be defending against. In Fundamentalisms Observed, Martin Marty and Scott Appleby give useful information about this subject, which they believe is urgent for citizens to know about.

In today’s church and today’s commercial world, the word “family” is too often a code word used to mean the only kind of family that social conservatives approve of. Businesses use it as an effort to make people buy whatever they’re selling. In the church, it’s likely to make outsiders feel further out, which isn’t what we need to be doing.

Mar 2001 – Ideas for reading

This issue describes several books I recommend for individual reading or use in church study groups.

Apr 2001 – Finding hope in change

In Discontinuity and Hope, Lyle Schaller describes changes that have made pastors’ jobs harder and some older members’ church participation less comfortable for them. He sees many of the changes as hopeful signs, however.

May 2001 – Which worldview do you choose?

In The Powers that Be, Walter Wink describes the five main worldviews that in Western history have provided a picture of the nature of things. He finds that most of us have chunks of each of them in our psyches and that we may be the first generation that can make a conscious choice between them.

June 2001 – Why Connections?

Because Connections has been getting many new readers, I describe again here some of my spiritual journey and my reasons for writing Connections, and answer some of the questions readers often ask me.

July 2001 – Joining what God chooses to bless

In Waking to God’s Dream, Dick Wills urges us to try to identify what God is choosing to bless, and to join it, instead of trying to persuade God to bless what we happen to want done. He describes the characteristics that he usually sees in God-given visions, and gives suggestions for how to make small groups effective in the church.

Aug 2001 – Thinking about sermons

In Unfinished Business, William C. Coleman discusses sermons in a way that I was surprised to find interesting and thought-provoking even though I never have occasion to compose sermons.

Sept 2001 – Sermons–views from a pro

Homiletics professor John Holbert tells some of what he has observed and learned from many years of preaching in many congregations and teaching seminary students how to preach.

Oct 2001 – Disaster raises questions

The 9-11-01 terrorist attacks on the U.S. raise urgent questions for U.S. Christians, about patriotism, about whether God chooses who will live and who will die, and about how to treat our enemies and other people who aren’t like us.

Nov 2001 – What kind of school prayer?

The 9-11-01 attacks and a newspaper article about the Texas governor’s participation in a school prayer raise urgent questions about public prayer in our nation, whose population keeps becoming more religiously diverse.

Dec 2001 – Christians relating to other religions

Even more than before 9-11-01, questions about religious displays in public places at Christmas need our attention and our best thinking. In Relating to People of Other Religions, Thomas Thangaraj gives helpful information about non-Christian religions, describes Christians’ most common attitudes toward them, and gives suggestions for Christians about how to relate to their adherents. In The World’s Religions, Huston Smith suggests three questions Christians need to ask when looking at other religions.