As our understanding of what it means to be human changes, our theologies are changing in ways that embrace reality rather than try to deny the evidence that is revealing a whole new dynamic that is drawing us toward an appreciation of creation that is even more amazing than our ancestors could possibly have imagined. Some Christians are afraid of this ever evolving view of creation, while others of us are compelled to wander beyond the confines of our comfort-zones. My hope is that we will find ways of staying in relationship with one another.
We are really excited to begin selling tickets for Michael Morwood’s visit to Holy Cross May 2-4. Morwood has an uncanny ability to re- imagine and articulate christianity in ways that speak to those of us who embrace all that we are learning from science about the origins and nature of the cosmos. You can read more about Michael and sample videos here and here
“We know what we are. We know not what we may be.” William Shakespeare (1564-1618) Jason Silva is a performance philosopher and filmmaker whose work stimulates and challenges in the blink of an eye. Using the medium of short-film Silva posits questions and ideas that drive his viewers to the brink of possibility. Our quest to understand what it means to be human may be an eternal search, but Silva invites us on a detour of exploration which promises to stretch our understanding beyond the safety of the known toward the parameters of our reach and then back again to the deep limits of ourselves. In two short minutes Silva caused me to wonder: If we are to become the chief agents of of human evolution, will religion play a role? and, Will Christianity be able to re-articulate its narrative in time to be relevant to the discussion?.
Our third class began with a recap of last week’s conversation about Nietzsche. We then began to explore the critique of religion offered by Karl Marx whose dialectic materialism necessitated a brief exploration of Hegel’s dialectic of ideas. Next week we will move on to Sigmund Freud’s critique of religion. Below, you can view a video of the Keynote/PowerPoint that was used during the class (you can find a pdf of the same which includes brief notes by clicking here) A pdf of the class hand-out can be found here
Dr. Ilia Delio offers an integration of cosmology and theology which opens the way to a re-articulation of the Christ narrative that is lodged within the reality of our unfolding evolution. Her considerable ability to articulate a wholistic theology which has the potential to move Christianity into the twenty-first century is exciting!!! I am currently devouring her mind-blowing book, “Christ in Evolution” in preparation to spend a day soaking up her wisdom when she visits Guelph in April (for details click here). I hope to have the opportunity to read her latest book “The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love”, and revisit her earlier book, “The Emergent Christ: Exploring the Meaning of Catholic in an Evolutionary Universe” which introduced me to her exceptional mind. Her just published collection of essays, “From Teilhard to Omega: Co-creating an Unfinished Universe” awaits. I will endeavour to post more about her work in the weeks to come. But for now, the video of her lecture “Christ in Evolution” is an excellent introduction to her work. Dr. Delio is an exciting evolutionary theologian whose brilliance is tempered by her sense of humour and her ability to challenge her listeners to stretch ourselves beyond what we think we can possibly comprehend toward a new appreciation of our roles in the ongoing process of evolution. Splendid stuff!!!!
When I was a child, the word God was one of those words that adults either used in vain or in hushed tones. Outbursts of anger always included the word God. Strange and mysterious circumstances often resulted in the word God being used in hushed tones. I remember the very first movie I was ever taken to see. Bambi may have been a Disney movie, but when the shot that killed Bambi’s mother rang out, as far as my mother was concerned, I broke one of the ten commandments when I shouted, “Oh my God.” Mom warned me that when we got home there would be dire consequences for this offence which confused me to no end, because before the movie began, they did what they always did in back in the 1960’s, they played, “God save the Queen” as we all stood to attention. God’s name been sung out incurred no dire consequences.
When I was little the words of “God save the Queen” mystified me. Not because the words are particularly mystifying, but because I heard them through the ears of a child. “God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen.” I had absolutely no idea what gracious or noble meant, but our Queen, who always managed to cause an argument whenever she was mentioned in Belfast, our Queen was both gracious and noble. “Send her victorious”, that was the queen’s name: “Victorious” “Send her victorious, long to reignoverus.” I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was that the queen did that was so bad that everybody wanted to send her all the way to a place called reignoverus. Whatever it was, this horrible thing, it was so bad that only God could save her. Poor old Victorious.
Readings: Thomas Aquinas “EMBRACE THAT” found here
St. Teresa of Avila “DESIRE YOU” found here
Gospel of John 4:1-42 found here
Watch the video below which was shown in worship after the reading of the Gospel: The Woman at the Well (below) and then listen to the sermon.
You can listen to the sermon audio here:
We will wrap up our conversation on Nietzsche’s critique and how it might help us to examine our own expression of Christianity. You can read a summary of Nietzsche’s views on Christianity here and watch a short lecture on Nietzsche and Christianity below. Please watch episodes 2 and 3 of Atheism: A Brief History of Unbelief (below) to prepare for our next class on Wed. March 23 so that we can begin to look at the critiques of Marx and Freud.
Nadia Bolz-Weber’s provides an interesting and amusing view of life in and of the church…sort of a funnier, Lutheran, version of Phyllis Tickle; worth watching…especially if you’ve spent any time in the Lutheran church! Bolz-Weber spent some time in stand-up comedy and it serves her well as she bemoans the state of the church and calls for a new kind of freedom in the church. While I disagree with some of what Bolz-Weber stands for (perhaps I’m just jealous of the size of her audience?), I do find her fresh approach provides food for thought; besides she makes me laugh!
Nadia Bolz-Weber’s stand-up begins at the 25 minute mark:
Recorded live on location at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Hanover, PA on 3/15/2014
Earlier this week the discovery of gravitational waves heralded the possibility that “The Theory of Everything” is within our grasp. With this astounding feat of science as our context we continued our exploration of atheism in the hope that in the critique of Christianity we can discover the log in our own eye and perhaps move toward a more nuanced Christianity that is better capable of expressing the meaning of existence. In this class we focussed on the work of the philosopher Frederich Nietzsche.
Below is a video of the Keynote/Powerpoint presentation, in which you will find several videos: 1- the discover of gravitational waves; 2 – All Too Human – Nietzsche; 3: Nietzsche on Religion
Dave Van Ronk, aka The Mayor of MacDougal Street, haunted my teen-age years with folk songs that still inhabit my soul. Some say The Mayor is the inspiration behind the movie Inside Llweyn Davis. But to me the growly voiced Mayor remains a poet who inspired me to put pen to paper. As I prepare to tickle my keyboard to create a sermon about John 4:1-42, his voice echo’s in my soul. van Ronk died in 2002 and imagining his journey “on down to Galilee, on that promenade in green” soothes the ache of his absence even as it inspires me to speculate on the rocky road the Samaritan woman travelled to that ancient well. “uka duke soda cracker!”
There’s a commercial currently running on the TV and each time it comes on, I can’t help myself, it makes me smile and if I let myself, it makes me laugh. It’s a collection of scenes in which lovely little babies laugh. They laugh and they laugh and they laugh and before you know it you’re hooked and you just can’t help yourself you are laughing too. Laughter is a great tonic! Laughter is good for the soul! And yet, for some unknown reason we tend to exclude laughter from our religious life. Religion is serious business and so we don’t laugh much in worship. There’s a quote from St. Teresa of Avila that served as a warning sign for me as I was preparing this sermon. “NOT YET TICKLED” writes St. Teresa, “How did those priests ever get so serious and preach all that gloom? I don’t think God tickled them yet. Beloved—hurry.” The thought of being tickled by God is delightfully refreshing. Continue reading
I am indebted to Jim Kast-Keat, a pioneering preacher who inspired me to open this sermon with the video below. I am also indebted to Bishop John Shelby Spong for teaching me more that I can articulate with words. His excellent book The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic opened the Gospel According to John in ways that have helped me to see aspects of the Divine to which I was once blind. Much of the sermon consists of extensive quotes from chapter 9 of Jack’s book.
Readings: John Chapter 2 and John 3:1-17
Watch the video below carefully and then listen to the sermon below.
Listen to the sermon:
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I was asked about the sermon I preached last year when the celebration fell upon a Sunday. The person who asked about the sermon remembered laughing a lot during its delivery and encouraged me to re-post it. So, pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple, sit back and enjoy a laugh.
Readings: Numbers 27: 1-11; Acts 13:44-51; John 12:1-8
St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t often fall on a Sunday, but as our congregation’s Annual Meeting would begin immediately following our worship service, I decided to be somewhat playful and irreverent with a sermon designed encourage folk to think beyond words on a page. The first reading brought the wonderful story of the Daughters of Zelophehad to church and as this reading does not appear in the Revised Common Lectionary it was fun to play with these feisty women. The reading from the book of Acts is actually the prescribed reading for the commemoration of St. Patrick and the Gospel text is prescribed for Lent 5C. The Guinness was just for fun! Enjoy.
Listen to the sermon
Read a transcript of the sermon here
Evolutionary theologian Michael Dowd expresses an evolutionary understanding of what it means to be human. His interpretations encourage the adoption of a reality based evidentiary faith.
Watch Episode One of “Atheism: A Rough History of Unbelief” and then john us for conversation March 19 at 10:30am – For details of the program click here
Despite a snow-storm, our Atheism for Lent Study is of to a great beginning! Posted below is the Keynote presentation that was used to facilitate the class. Each slide will play for 5 seconds and can be stopped by using the pause button. Videos used in the class are included in the Keynote presentation.