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In the world of Progressive Christianity and the SBNR (in its various forms), there seems to be a growing belief that we are on the cusp of a new age of spiritual enlightenment. This has engendered an enthusiasm much like in the 1960s, when the "spiritual but not religious" of that time thought they were ushering in the Age of Aquarius---a time when...

 After talking about the Buddhist statue controversy at St. Mary's South Brisbane, we were reminded of just how many similar teachings and attitudes exist between Jesus and Buddha. One of the most prominent behaviors which these two prophets share is that neither one wrote anything down. By today's standards (where everyone seems to be writing about every triviality under the sun, and then...

There is one thing that many scientists and orthodox Christians share: that is, a dislike of contradictions. That an electron can appear as either a particle or a wave is as disturbing to the scientist, as the mystical phrase You are God and not God is to the evangelical Baptist. Literal Bible readers take extraordinary flights of fancy to erase the many contradictions of...

After professional provocateur Christopher Hitchens published God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything he became the patron saint of 21st century atheism. But was Hitchens really an atheist? Here at LivingHour.org we always suspected no; that Hitchen's diatribes were directed toward simply the literal sects of religion and those who anthropomorphize God as an old man in the clouds, living in a...

In China, there is the legend of the three laughing monks. They are also today sometimes referred to as the three laughing saints (but of course in a very SBNR way). The monks only ever did one thing: on entering a new village, they would stand in the market place and start laughing. They would laugh with their whole being (mind, body, heart,...

The Dalai Lama of Tibet is said to have an extraordinary laugh, one that rises frequently and joyfully from deep within his body. This is something we don't attribute to Jesus much: laughter. We get so caught up with Jesus's end game and the "man of sorrows" image that we lose sight of how much fun he must have been to be around. After...

"And the moon rose over an open field." So it goes in Simon & Garfunkel's classic song "America". These 8 simple words are perhaps the most eloquent turn of phrase in all popular music---and a lyric that should serve as a strong metaphor for Progressive Christians and all those who seek the pathway to God. When the moon is close the horizon, hovering just...

American Presidents and other public leaders sometimes hit the refrain that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice". Nearly always they attribute the quote to Martin Luther King, who invoked the long arc of the moral universe in relationship to African-Americans' struggles for equal rights. Martin Luther King though did not coin this phrase about the moral universe....

A famous old piece of Zen wisdom says: "If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him." There are a couple of reasons why we are called to take Buddha out. The most commonly cited reason is that the prophet in the road is not really Buddha at all, but a figment of our imaginations---a psychological projection of the person we want Buddha...

Trust your "inner wisdom" is a lot like Joseph Campbell's dictum follow your bliss. It sounds good on the surface, but it can just as likely lead us away from the Christ within as lead us toward our divinity and life's purpose. This is because wisdom is not planted inside us like a burning bush but a mustard seed---a seed which takes years...

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...