Jan 2009 – Reading the Bible selectively

It’s impossible to avoid but important to recognize. We tend to avoid especially the parts that make us uncomfortable.

Feb 2009 – Warned against life-saving books

Some Christians have had pastors tell them not to read the books that turned out to be among their most valuable. So if a pastor tells you not to read a certain book, it’s likely to be one that’s actually important for you  to read!

Mar 2009 – Afraid of what we’ll see?

Like Galileo’s contemporaries who refused to look through his telescope, fearful members of First United Methodist Church in Georgetown TX persuaded church leaders to renege on hosting a presentation by scholars from the Jesus Seminar.

Joan Chittister warns against remaining comatose in the face of untruths that are presented as truths. The church too often commits “spiritual euthanasia”  instead of trying to revive spiritually comatose people.

Apr 2009 – Jesus’s way of life is what matters most

Our creeds and traditions emphasize mainly his birth and death, but what he did during his life is what counts, Stephen J. Patterson reminds readers in Beyond the Passion.

May 2009 – Curiosity that led to growth

Guest author Julie Fuschak, a central Texas lay United Methodist,  tells her personal story.

June 2009 – A courageous book

Reading it almost made me want to stop writing Connections and say “Read this instead!”—With or Without God, by Canadian UCC pastor Gretta Vosper. (To buy a copy, go to www.chapters.indigo.ca/books if you can’t find it elsewhere.)

July 2009 – A fork in a long road

In Saving Jesus from the Church, Robin Meyers urges us to re-examine the point at which the church changed from the experiential road to the creedal road, and then to move forward on the less-traveled of those roads.

Aug 2009 – More intriguing books

Most of this issue is about Travel as a Political Act, by Rick Steves.  His book is a spiritual autobiography and a plea to Americans to look at the world with open eyes, hearts, and minds and to speak bravely about the new insight they get.

I briefly describe The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle, and The Limits of Power, by Andrew Bacevich.

Sept 2009 – PCCS—action close to home

Several other progressives and I are starting an informal network called the Progressive Christian Center of the South, to help disseminate information, promote justice, and help southern progressives find and support each other. An upcoming educational effort of PCCS will be the presentation of seminars featuring scholars John Dominic Crossan and Joerg Rieger, on Oct 23-24-25 in Richardson and Temple, Texas.

Oct 2009 – Has your time to blossom come?

“The time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom,” Anaïs Nin wrote. This strikes me as an apt description of how many Christians come to expand their understanding of God and Christian faith. But many others unfortunately never risk blossoming.

Nov 2009 – I believe…

As I start my 18th year of writing Connections, I try to state my current beliefs about God, Jesus, and the church, hoping to clarify my beliefs in my own mind and to help readers reconsider their beliefs and think whether some might need revision.

Dec 2009 – Peace, comfort, and truth

A reader of the Nov issue asks if the beliefs I expressed in it bring peace, by which she seems to mean personal comfort. For her, they apparently do not bring that. However,  the vast majority of responders say that such beliefs do bring them comfort—the comfort that comes from feeling they are free to tell the truth and from knowing that others understand truth similarly. Many people who come to church only at Christmas might appreciate finding this kind of comfort when they come this month. Different people get comfort in different ways.