Open Eyes, Open Heart
the Spiritual Path of
Progressive Christianity

Progressive Christian Spirituality July 2007
In This Issue
Thomas the Buddha-like Missionary
President's Note
Book Review


science and religionTCPC Website reaches all-time high at nearly 48,000 unique visitors last month to

123 Scientists
from 46 States
and the
District of Columbia have agreed to serve as volunteer technical consultants for members of the clergy, through the Evolution Sunday/Clergy Project.

Will the United Church of Christ be the first Christian denomination to support legislation allowing physician-
assisted suicide
as an option for the dying?

Interfaith Earth Keeper Energy Summit in Marquette, Michigan on June 13, 2007 inspires hundreds of
Michigan churches, temples, businesses, and homeowners to conserve energy thus saving millions of dollars on utility bills over the next few years.

Southern Methodist University is slated to house the Bush Presidential Library and an associated neo-conservative political think-tank.

To Read More about these stories and other TCPC News, click here: NEWS



Young Adult Ecumenical Forum 2007
Jul 26, 2007: BostonUniversity, Marsh Chapel
Boston, MA

Vital Worship for Progressive Christianity
Jul 30, 2007: PacificSchool of Religion Summer Session
Berkeley, CA

A Special 2007 summer Conference -The Great Chain of Being
Aug 3, 2007: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

God & Gays Conference  Unity is Our Identity
Aug 3, 2007
Nashville, TN


Blissful Seeker Corner

by: Deshna Ubeda


Are you a seeker?

While there are many churches out there that are now realizing they must grow, question, and evolve...depending on where you live, they can be few and far between.  If you are like me, you want to roll out of bed, drink your tea and drive less than 15 minutes to church.  While you wait for your local church to catch up, here are some suggestions for drawing the spirit into your life on a daily basis.

1. When you wake up, remind yourself of all that you have. Give Thanks.

2. Spend 5 minutes of deep belly breathing before you do anything else.  This cleanses your body of toxins and your mind of anxiety.

3.  Follow the path of Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, etc. by stirring up your compassion, for those you pass on the streets, for those who are suffering, and especially for those you find it the hardest to love.

4. Let it go!  Let go of the fears, let go of your stress, let go of your plans and just be in the moment.  If you find yourself grasping onto negative emotions, try reminding yourself of what you are doing in the moment and breathing with I know that I am washing the dishes, I know that I am walking.

Remember: The only thing that is real is change.  Nothing is permanent.

Peace, love and light.
Jesus Buddha statue

Did the Apostle Thomas Make an Independent Stand Becoming Jesus' only Buddha-like Missionary?

By: John Mitrosky

Strike the sheppard, that the sheep may be scattered.
Zechariah 13:7; compare John 16:32; Mark 14:27; Matthew 26:31; and the Fayyum Fragment

With the exception of James, Peter and John who stayed together for some time in Jerusalem after Jesus was no longer with them, all the legends about the apostles attest to their separate destinies; a missionary "scattering". The scattering of the apostles seems to have been a fate they all accepted. I am sure the apostles quarreled some after Judas' Iscariot's betrayal, like people who realign their affections and take sides after a bitter divorce within a group of friends. But I also believe Jesus did quote Zechariah, especially if you take seriously, as I do, that Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey to personally fulfill his understanding of Zechariah 9:9. Perhaps there is some truth to the legends of the apostles scattering and becoming independent missionaries. Perhaps they were just taking to heart their Lord's quoting of Zechariah before his arrest.
Undoubtedly, one of the legends having the most historical truth to back it up is that Thomas was the first to scatter. It is said he was entrusted very early on with the mission to the East. First, he went north-east into Syria. Then he proceeded to Iraq. Next, he sailed out of the Persian Gulf arriving in India in 52 A.D. Along the way, he founded places of Buddhist-like study in Jesus' name. In India, his teaching was tolerated by the Buddhists and Hindus indicating his gospel shared important features with their own religious traditions. For the next 1,500 years, Thomasite Christians maintained a link to Thomas' alleged missionary path. They traced their apostolic line through Thomas, rather than Peter. When the Portuguese Catholics arrived in the 1530's, they spent the next 70 years trying to stamp out the Thomasite anomaly with violence.

They did not succeed. You can still go to the Eastern churches  that claim Thomas brought them a Buddha-like gospel of enlightenment, only their Buddha is Jesus. The legends about Thomas have roots as deep, or deeper, than Peter, James and John.

Since the finding of the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas in 1945, we can speculate easily why writings attributed to Thomas were excluded from the New Testament canonization process. Thomas' gospel is only concerned with understanding and knowledge imparted by Jesus. The gospel does not advocate worship of Jesus. Rather, you seek Jesus' knowledge of life and death. This slight shift in perspective is like what a follower of Buddha does, in order to become equal to the master. Service, trust, compassion and knowing the master's truth is the essence of having faith. This perspective is accurate, I believe, to the historical Jesus' own teaching on life and death. 

To Finish reading this article click here: Article 

Fred Plumer with grandaughter President's Note

There is More to Church than Just Good Music

By Fred Plumer

Ten years ago George Carlin the comedian, wrote in his book,Brain Droppings, "The only thing good that came out of religion was the music."

When I ponder the violent history of the Christian church, the religious wars that still continue to plague our world, the divisiveness, the prejudice and the bigotry that the church has perpetuated and continues to perpetuate in the world today, I wonder if George Carlin is right. I worry that our attempts to redefine what it means to be a Progressive Christian within the Christian church, gives more credibility to the church that continues to divide, judge and even abuse. I wonder if our efforts to promote a more rational and spiritual expression of Christianity actually ends up providing some credibility to the voice and power of the self righteous, self centered, self serving, often superstitious tendencies of the "Christian Right" in our society. I wonder if our support of religious institutions provides some credibility to the religious factions in the Middle East that bring the world so close to annihilation every day.  Yes, I wonder, sometimes, if the world would not be better without religions in spite of the great music.

But then I remember. I remember the nourishing support of an adoring congregation in a small little Presbyterian church where I grew up. That group of loving folks let me know that they cared about me and that they expected me to be someone special, as they did with all of the children. I never wanted to let them down. I wonder who I would be today if I had not experienced that nurturing and positive love during those all important formative years.

I also remember a time as a young adult when I was so angry and confused about my life, that I wasn't sure if it had any value. But it was a struggling little UCC congregation in a small town in Western Colorado that welcomed me and accepted me when I could not accept myself....gave to me when I had nothing to give.  And I wonder where I would be today if it had not been for that struggling little church.

The truth is that positive, healthy congregations have been building, healing and transforming lives for a long time. Richard Rubenstein, a practicing Jew, in his fascinating book, When Jesus Became God, writes eloquently about the liberating and renewing force of the Christian communities during the second and third centuries.

To Finish reading this article click here: Article
Fred Plumer with grandaughter
A Book Review of:

Living Faith-
How Faith Inspires Social Justice


Curtis Paul DeYoung

Review By:
G. Richard Wheatcroft

Living Faith presents the stories of three representative leaders who, from different faith traditions and in different historical contexts, were inspired to seek social justice and reconciliation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Christian who resisted the Nazi movement in the 1930s and 1940s. Malcolm X was a Muslim African American man who struggled against racism in the 1950s and 1960s. Aung San Suu Kyi is a Buddhist who lives in Burmaand led a freedom movement in the 1980s and 1990s. The author also incorporates into these stories the lives of many other twentieth century "faith inspired activists" from various religious traditions and nations.

The author describes these leaders as "mystic activists." He points out that all the sacred writings of the major faith communities share similar views of God's mandate for justice and reconciliation. He calls the leaders who are embedded in their respective faith communities "mystic activists" because they are "deeply rooted in their faith and in the mystery of the divine." And he stresses that it is their activism that "compels them to reach passionately inward toward the divine for substance, wisdom, perseverance, and belonging. Their outward activism needs inward mysticism."

In exploring the lives and words of mystic-activists who worked for social change in the twentieth century, he shares his discovery of common themes that played in their lives. He writes that "(1) their religious faith motivates them (2) their world view emerges from the margins of society: (3) their identity is rooted in a belief that we share a common humanity; and they embrace an ethics of revolution that demands structural change.

The author is clear that a "lived faith is the hallmark of the leadership of mystic-activists." They seek experiences of God through prayer, meditation and fasting; and they proclaim prophetic challenges to pursue the mandate of God for social justice and reconciliation.
It is the author's fervent hope that mystic-activists in the twenty- first century will continue the struggle and make even greater progress than the mentors of the twentieth century described in his book.

To Finish this review click here:  Review
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P.S. The office will be closed from 7/26-8/12.  Many of our volunteers and staff are travelling this summer, so response time may be slow.  We thank you for your patience!

Contact Info
Fred Plumer, President
Deshna Ubeda, Adminstrator
4916 Pt. Fosdick Dr NW #148, Gig Harbor, Washington 98335