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In this final installment of our special series on the Founding Fathers Religion, we move to farmer, politician, and guerilla revolutionary leader Ethan Allen, who perhaps is best known for leading the Green Mountain Boys (and other fighters) in their raid and capture Fort Ticonderoga, a strategic victory which severely hampered communication between the northern and southern units of the British army. Like Thomas...

One of our relatively forgotten Founding Fathers is James Wilson, a signatory of The Declaration of Independence, a member of the Continental Congress, and among the first six Supreme Court justices chosen by President George Washington. One the most prominent lawyers of his time, Wilson is often credited as being the most learned of the Framers of the Constitution. James Wilson was also someone...

As we begin the final week of our month-long series on the Founding Fathers, Spirituality, and Religion, we turn our attention to George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and of course the first President of The United States. A fierce advocate of personal liberties, General Washington worried over the tyranny of establishments and institutions in all matters,...

Today in our faith and religion series on America's Founding Fathers, we take a look at James Madison, the 4th President of the United States, who is widely recognized as being the "Father of the Constitution." Madison was a strong advocate of limited federal power, and a vigorous defender of the separation between Church and State. An Episcopalian, Madison always took a reasonable...

One of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States was John Adams, our second president and the revolutionary delegate who was instrumental in persuading Congress to adopt the United States' Declaration of Independence in 1776. A Unitarian Progressive Christian, Adams was well familiar with the abuses to which Christianity was subject, yet he kept an abiding faith in religion's positive role of...

This week in our special series on the Founding Fathers Religion, we return to Thomas Jefferson, who likely wrote more on the subjects of God, Christianity, and Religion than any of the other Americans we attribute "founding father" status. Indeed Jefferson went so far as to famously write The Jefferson Bible (The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth) in an attempt to...

Before the likes of Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Adams, we had William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania who is rightly considered by many to be America's first Founding Father. A champion of religious freedom and democracy, Penn stands out among many early American settlers in his good relations and treaties with native-Americans. A Quaker (the Religious Society of Friends), William Penn was good friends...

The latest e-Bulletin from the Center for Progressive Christianity is titled "Why Do We Dare to Have Hope?". In the newsletter we thus have articles dealing with the role of HOPE in the Progressive Christian path. We have President Fred Plumer talking about "hope" as an action of creative transformation, SBNR Pastor Ian Lawton arguing that being filled up with "hope" is a...

Any series on the Founding Fathers Religion would be remiss without addressing the topic of slavery. For us today it seems amazing that such enlightened men, who demanded liberty and freedom for themselves, couldn't see the hypocrisy in keeping slaves. But many of the Founding Fathers did clearly see the evil of the slave trade and bore no illusions as to themselves being...

The state of Christian sermons (be they Evangelical sermons or Progressive Christian sermons) has remained pretty constant for centuries now. What state is this? Well, in the words of singer and songwriter Joe Jones (circa 1960): You talk too much, you worry me to death, You talk too much, you even worry my pet, You just talk, talk too much. You talk about people that you...

This week in our special series on the Founding Fathers Religion, we begin with the revolutionary Thomas Paine, a statesman who often was ostracized for his SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) views on Christianity, God, and religion. Like a true Progressive Christian, Paine tried to encourage forward progress in all aspects of the individual life and the life of the nation. His...

In this installment of our series dealing with the Founding Fathers Religion and Progressive Christian living, we turn to John Dickinson, a less widely-known Father from Philadelphia who fought during the American Revolution and served as a Pennsylvania delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787. Dickinson is perhaps most famous for his declaration to...

Continuing with our series on the Founding Fathers Religion and their reflections on God, and Christianity, we move today to some commentary from that Progressive Christian and inventor Benjamin Franklin. The following passage is taken from a letter Franklin wrote to the reverend Ezra Stile in 1790, when Franklin was 84 years old, and Stile was serving as president of Yale College. Here...

The Founding Fathers of the United States are often referred to as a mixture of anti-clerical Christians (i.e. religious free-thinkers) and deists. In many ways, we might think of them all as laying the groundwork for what is now referred to as the Progressive Christianity movement---for they were leaders who possessed a solid sense of reason that was guided by an understanding of...

Lately there has been a lot of talk about a "crisis" in Progressive Christianity and whether or not the Progressive Christian movement is dead in the water. Critics claim that new seminary graduates are ill-prepared to lead today's generation and that new "paradigms" need to be developed. Some progressive ministers are even abandoning the Christian cloak altogether to become "independent" spiritual leaders....

The Lebanese-American writer Kahlil Gibran is best known for his elegant and moving book The Prophet. But Gibran produced many other works during his short life, which ended in 1931. Since his death, Gibran has inspired countless men and women, including artists like John Lennon who paraphrased Gibran's famous verse, "Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that...

Spiritual Progressives who have studied some Eastern philosophy are no doubt familiar with Lao Tzu, whose book the Tao Te Ching (The Way of Nature & Its Power) established the religion of Taoism. Not so many though are familiar with the second great teacher of Taoism, Chuang Tzu, who more than anyone preserved Taoism from the encroachments of Confucianism. One of the...

In an earlier post, we quoted the progressive Christian Leo Tolstoy as saying that we all can wake up to a real, happy, and peaceful life, as it exists in our consciences (God's Kingdom within), if we just make the moral effort. That was easy for him to say. While Tolstoy might have inspired Martin Luther King and Gandhi with such words, few...

The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy is a monumental figure in the world of literature. His epic novel War and Peace is unrivaled in its breadth and scope. But Tolstoy was more than just a fiction writer. He was a keen observer of the human condition and arguably the most progressive Christian in Russia during the 19th and early 20th century. His later...

In today's online issue of Salon.com there is an interesting interview with Robert Wright, a well-known American journalist. Wright is the author of a new book "The Evolution of God," which approaches its subject from the logical standpoint that, more often than not, we have created our Gods to match our own evolving self-image and needs. Wright refers to himself as a materialist...

Continuing with our theme of cultural evolution and the long arc of the moral universe, we turn to the subject of the evolution of Christianity, Religion, and Christian thought. For insight we go to another progressive figure who long has been forgotten by many: British historian Henry Thomas Buckle, who arguably was the first scientific analyzer of social evolution. Like the Unitarian...

Readers of LivingHour.org have noticed that we cast a pretty wide net when talking about Progressive Christianity and the works of Progressive Christians. In our writings we include people who've never identified themselves as Christians, much less Progressive Christians. Indeed we've even included atheists, like Albert Camus, among our sources of Progressive Christian inspiration. Although our definition of a Progressive Christian may seem a...

Back in  2009, it was with great hope and interest that Progressive Christians were watching the political protests in Iran. At that time, a public address by Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri to the Iranian people was striking in its honesty. In his letter Ayatollah Montazeri slammed the regime for its astonishingly violent attempts to purge dissent, and its illegitimate arrests of...

When the Zen scholar Daisetz (D.T.) Suzuki was asked what it was like to have satori, he said: "Well, it's like ordinary, everyday experience, except about two inches off the ground." This kind of experience isn't something we usually associate with Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet with his feet firmly rooted to the ground on which we walk, and who we like...

When they had almost reached Jerusalem, having come as far as Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent on two disciples. 2 "Go to the village facing you," he said, "and you will immediately find a donkey tethered, with a foal by her side; untie her, and lead her here for me. 3 And, if anyone says anything to you, you are...

The 14th century German vicar Meister Eckhart was in many ways a 21st century Progressive Christian. Although highly educated and an admirer of Thomas Aquinus, Eckhart also realized the limits of formal education, once telling the Paris elite that not one person among them could conceive with all their learning what God was in the meanest creature, not even in a fly. An indomitable...