Jan 2010 – Thinking about war and peace
In his book Faith-Based War, T. Walter Herbert asks Americans to look honestly at whether our Christian political leaders’ interpretation of the Christian message has brought peace to our nation and the world. He finds that many leaders have practiced an imperialist militarism that comes from a dangerous perversion of Christian teaching.
Feb 2010 – Finding kindred spirits
Many Connections readers wish for opportunities to discuss what following Jesus requires with regard to today’s most pressing issues. They want to work with others to combat the injustices they see. They want to learn what the best scholars have discovered about the Bible and Christian history and beliefs. Yet in their home communities and churches, these readers haven’t been able to find such connections. This issue suggests possible ways to find some.
Also, I report a shocking instance of city government raising funds to support Christian fundamentalist groups in my city’s elementary schools, and I urge readers to combat such activities actively and publicly.
Mar 2010 – Reflections
I reflect on comments I heard from 3 friends, about the worship services at their churches, which led me to reflect also on thoughts expressed by Karen Armstrong in The Case for God.
Apr 2010 – A theologian’s story
The spiritual journey of theologian Joerg Rieger.
May 2010 – Belief and faith
Having faith doesn’t mean making ourselves believe what we find unbelievable.
June 2010 – Progressive Christians’ dilemma
Should we work on combating the injustice that exists within the church, or admit that changing the church is so unlikely that we might as well focus on combating the justice that exists outside the church instead? Members who have been rejected by the church because they don’t agree with the majority recognize the need for working for change in the church, not just in the world outside it.
July 2010 – Trying to describe Christianity
Instead of different versions of Christianity, there seem to be merely different opinions about what its essentials are. This Connections includes an article by Canadian UCC pastor Gretta Vosper, describing how she sees “progressive Christianity.”
Fred Plumer, president of The Center for Progressive Christianity, observes that many church leaders don’t want their churches labeled “progressive” because they don’t want to make waves or they feel their hands are tied by denominational structures.
Aug 2010 – A plea for prophetic voices
In his compelling book All My Bones Shake, Robert Jensen tells about growing up in the church, dropping out and spending many years “studiously ignoring theological debates,” then trying to deepen his politics through theology and becoming active in a congregation, and being tried for heresy by his denomination. He feels that our present situation cries out for prophets and that each of us needs to take responsibility for speaking in the prophetic voice.
Sept 2010 – Opinions that need examining
A recent statement by Anne Rice and recent newspaper columns by Leonard Pitts, Adam Hamilton, and Richard Land present views about Christianity that show the need to distinguish between real Christianity and other beliefs and behavior that are actually a distortion of it despite claiming to be biblical or Christian.
In his book Mature Christianity, UMC pastor William Holmes says that in some ways, what we say about God today needs to be a radical departure from earlier ways of speaking about God. Otherwise, we risk seeming merely laughable to come-of-age people in today’s world.
Oct 2010 – Vessels that don’t hold treasure
An article by Parker Palmer advocates discarding church doctrines and customs (the “earthen vessels” of 2 Corinthians 4:7) that have become too cramped to hold our treasure or that defile it rather than honor it, keeping us from having a live encounter with it. In a short book that’s free from the internet, Lloyd Geering describes the origin, character, and dangers of fundamentalism, which Barbara sees as preserving vessels that need discarding.
Nov 2010 – An unbridgeable gulf?
The gulf between the beliefs of fundamentalist and conservative Christians and the beliefs of liberal or progressive Christians sometimes seems unbridgeable. This is especially apparent when we see claims that Jesus is the only route to God or that Christians will go to heaven when they die but no one else will. Some progressives feel that disseminating information about Jesus, the Bible, and Christian history would help to bridge the gap by showing conservatives the need to reconsider their beliefs, but others see that effort as futile.
Read about the Nov 2010 gathering of Connections readers and friends in Temple TX, and about Barbara’s just-published book, Misfits: The Church’s Hidden Strength.