The leaves fall- reminding us to let go, the weather turns cold- reminding us to slow down, spend more time indoors with our loved ones, the harvest is abundant and rich in color- reminding us to be thankful. Yet, as we approach Thanksgiving, we ask: as Progressive Christians who strive to feel compassion for all beings, who strive to bring justice and peace to a war torn world, who strive to walk the path Jesus began on a dusty desert nearly 2,000 years ago...how do we muster up our thankfulness, when we look around and see a world in despair? How do you find gratitude? Who are we thanking? And why?Our articles today share some thoughts on this subject. Enjoy this discussion and know that we ARE thankful for each of you, because you give us hope, you are reminders that there are people in this world that want to continue the true journey that Jesus began. We look forward to walking that dusty path with you.*If you would like to contribute to this discussion, send in your sermons, articles, and thoughts regarding Being Thankful in Today's World to: email@example.com.
Your article thoughts, sermons or article might be featured on the TCPC Website or the next eBulletin.
In response to our last question, "Who or What is God in Progressive Christianity?" we received many inspiring thoughts. Here is one of our favorites: God Question
Giving Thanks as a Life Changing
By: Fred Plumer
Jesus was not born into a privileged life. He was not born
with a silver spoon in his mouth and did not live under easy circumstances. But
he still lived in gratitude. In fact he made giving thanks for life a foundational
dynamic of his teaching. He seemed surprised by other people's inability to
live happy, fulfilling lives with little or no gratitude. "Why do you worry so much about what you eat, what you wear?"
He was asking this question of some pretty marginalized
people who were obviously struggling to make ends meet. You may recall the
Sermon on the Mount or Plains in this case from Luke that often gets ignored by
people of material substance.
poor! For God's domain belongs to you."
who are hungry! For you have a feast.
who weep! You will laugh." (Luke 6:20-6)
what gives with all of this?....
To Read this entire article, click here: Giving Thanks
To Read Fred's review of the book, An Introduction to Radical Theology, by Trevor Greenfield, click here: Review
Thanks for the Good, the Bad and the Surprising
By: Ian Lawton
Pastor of C3/Christ Community Church in Spring Lake Michigan and on the TCPC Executive Council
it mean to live as if I am surrounded by miracles, even though the kids are
fighting, the mortgage is overdue, there seems no end to global conflict and my
back hurts? Who should I be grateful to, and for what?
to be getting lost in our consumer culture, and I point to two reasons for this.
losing the sense of where anything comes from.
gratitude with plenitude.
does life come from?
has traditionally been a time to give thanks to a Creator God for the harvest.
Giving thanks for the harvest was hugely meaningful at a time when a lean harvest
would mean winter diets of turnips and cabbage soup; dried beans if you were
lucky. For some it would mean starvation, or dependence on charity just to
the original sense of thanksgiving because we don't have that challenge. We
just truck over and tuck in, fly down and fry up. We buy bananas from the local
store, oblivious to their 20 hour flight from New Zealand.
We fly in whatever takes our fancy from anywhere in the world, no matter
what the season. It doesn't even cost more. Why should we be grateful for our
food, when it all seems so easy? As Bart Simpson prayed before one meal- "Dear
God, we paid for this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing,"
we are paying for it big time. The journey of the banana from New Zealand leaves a trail of ecological
disaster behind it; a reminder of our lack of gratitude, a massive carbon
footprint that stamps "thanks for nothing" all over the sky.
To Read this whole article: Giving Thanks
|Jesus Lived and Died for Us
By: G. Richard Wheatcroft
In the April 1995
issue of Theology Today, theologian Murray Joseph Haar lamented
what he regarded as a "rampant" sickness within the American church. He wrote,
"The symptoms of this illness sound like this: 'Jesus died for my sins, His
pain my gain, He died to set us free, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away
my sins, I have decided to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior." With
words like these, many Christians proclaim and define their faith in the
efficacy of Jesus' death on their behalf. I contend that these words of faith indicate
precisely the nature of the sickness at the heart of American Christianity." He
calls the sickness, a "rampant, individualistic, self-serving redemptionism."
The sickness continues
today. The common understanding and frequent statement of many Christians is
that "Jesus died for us." Standing alone, that is a distortion of the Christian
faith, for it separates the life of Jesus from his death. A dramatic depiction
of this separation is seen in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ. In the film the passion of Christ was
almost entirely limited to his death. There was no understanding that his death
was the consequence and fulfillment of the passion of his life.
To Read the entire article, click here: Jesus Lived
|God In Disguise
By: Meredith Jordan
...One letter at a time, interspersed with occasional visits in
situ, the cowboy and the therapist have forged a friendship few men and women
have. A friendship with deep love at its core, good courage to speak the truth,
and the determination to listen well to another whose life experience is at
once unique, even foreign, yet universally understood when received by the
Once, I would have been reluctant to risk a conversation
with men who were so different from me. When Jim extended his heart, we
both became the grateful recipients of our own efforts to find a friend
where we might not otherwise have looked. That is, of course, the happiest
lesson of all, to find a beloved friend where we might not have looked for one,
or perhaps even turned away from a potential companion lying in wait...
To Read this article in its entirety, click here: God In Disguise
Commentary on: In Praise of the Secular
Author: Lloyd Geering
The following introduction of this booklet by:
It is the high calling of
prophets, artists, and teachers to help us see things more clearly and thereby
to live more wisely and happily. For well more than half a century Lloyd
Geering has combined these roles by enabling people the world over to see where
they stand in the slowly unfolding process of human self-discovery.
Such tutelage is never easy,
for like children we are loath to give up our familiar toys until someone
requires or persuades us to do so. Besides, the myriad events that comprise the
broad sweep of global history are not easily arranged into understandable
patterns. Engrossed by the trees that comprise our daily experience, we tend to
ignore the forest that they are but a part of.
It has been said, for
instance, that the driving economic engine of slavery so permeated
first-century Greco-Roman culture that even religious visionaries paid little
explicit attention to its inherent moral depravity. A noted scholar recently
suggested that the dynamic force behind our global culture - capitalism - is a
similar phenomenon. However arguable that second hypothesis may be, it is certain that Lloyd Geering is correct in pointing out something we often overlook: that secularism is both a growing force in society worldwide and the dominant feature of western culture (even including the bastion of reactionary theology known as the United States.)
To Read this Commentary in it's entirety, click here: In Praise
Like Catching Water in a Net-
Human Attempts to Describe the Divine
To buy this book, click here: Amazon
Author: Val Webb
The recent spate of God bashers--Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam
Harris, Christopher Hitchens--have received a good deal of criticism in the
secular press, most notably, Dawkins in Harper's, The London Review
of Books, and the New York Review of Books. Yet there are very few books
on the God phenomenon that would appeal to the readers of these same
publications, many of whom would be hard pressed to describe themselves as
either true believers, or "cultured despisers of religion." Val Webb's Like
Catching Water In a Net is such a book.
In Like Catching Water in a Net, Webb is not out to prove the
existence of a God, but to set out intuitions or intimations of the Divine
nature and attributes from the literature of the world's religions. Casting her
net more widely than Karen Armstrong in The History of God or Jack Miles
in God: A Biography, Webb delves deeply into the writings of Sufi,
Buddhist, and Hindu mystics, the nature religions of ancient Mesopotamians,
their kin the Israelites, and the Aboriginal people of her beloved Australia,
as well as Christian traditions.
Why have so many societies throughout history suspected there is
Something Bigger than themselves? What is the difference between knowing
Something exists and knowing what that Something might be (or not be)? And what
about arguments against the existence of God? Webb poses a critical challenge
to the way traditional Christianity has straitjacketed Western notions of God
and traces the lines of intersection and divergence of various religions in
order to offer fresh ways to consider Something More in our contemporary
Shelby Spong, author of Jesus for the Non-Religious calls it "an absorbing book written
with a lightness of touch, but grounded in deep knowledge and experience. As
writer, teacher, artist, trained theologian and scientist, Val Webb draws on an
amazing storehouse of ideas and explores in vivid, often unexpected ways the
myriad of symbols and images that disclose the Divine in the contemporary
Again we want to express our gratitude for your support, your interest, and your time. Please feel free to call or email us anytime with any comments or questions. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Fred Plumer and the Team at
The Center For Progressive Christianity
Our quote of the month comes from a progressive thinker: Thich Nhat Hanh, who reminds us to celebrate life even amidst death.
News and Up Coming Events
In the Spirit of the Earth: Ecology and Spiritual Liberation
Nov 27, 2007: Upfront & Company restaurant
Competing Early Christian Voices- The Contest for Authority
Nov 30, 2007: The Association for Research & Enlightenment
Virginia Beach, VA
Jesus Seminar On the Road
Nov 30, 2007: All over the states!
The Living Spiritual Elders Project
Jan 7, 2008: New College
Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening
Jan 25, 2008: Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town
John Dominic Crossan Lectures
Feb 1, 2008: University Congregational United Church of Christ
Voting Justice, Voting Hope
Apr 11, 2008: Plymouth Congregational Church
To see all of our latest news items click here: NEWS
Our latest top stories include (click above to see these all other news)
Senate Bill Adds Momentum for Action on Global Warming, Vital Strengthening Needed
TCPC Partners with Jesus Seminar to Encourage the Movement of Progressive Christianity Through EducationJudgment Day, a new documentary on the court case about teaching intelligent design in the schools of Dover, PA.
still arrive, in order to Laugh and to cry, to fear and to Hope. The
rhythm of my heart is the Birth and death of all that is Alive."
Blissful Seeker Corner
When I think of being thankful, much comes to mind that I can give thanks for. I have been blessed with a life of freedom, peace, health, and abundance. But what about my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world or on the streets in my own neighborhood who have never experienced these things? Is it right for me to be thankful when they have so little to give thanks for? Or is the world in such a place that we need to spend less time thanking some God in the sky for our food, our homes, our jobs, our families, and more energy on healing this incredible gift of a universe? Because it is in this universe that humans have been given the opportunity to create bliss and we have instead created nothing near bliss, heaven, Nirvana- or what ever you want to call it. And sometimes I feel so angry, frustrated, bent on taking action that I feel the act of giving thanks trivial, superficial, selfish. Although I know that it is imperative to my own well being to give thanks every day for what I have been given--this year I found the concept tricky. For I week I was stumped! How are we thankful, why are we thankful and to whom are we giving thanks? What would Jesus say? What would Buddha say? I was ready to admit failure to solve this mystery of how I truly felt about about this challenge, when I had this very- pull your hair out kind of moment- food burning, phone ringing, baby yelling for something, boxes to pack, work waiting- and I uttered quietly yet quite vehemently-"He can have the squished vege burger, since he certainly isn't helping me in this moment one bit!" I immediately felt horrible for putting out such a negative energy- our words are energy- and I apologized to the universe for adding even more negative thoughts and gave thanks for the incredible husband I have who works so hard each day for his family and who was in that moment working.
By Deshna Ubeda
And then, all of a sudden, it made sense again! My own personal mind trip mystery solved! I was so relieved to be reminded of what giving thanks does for me- it helps to balance the suffering, it puts a positive energy into the universe that others experience on some level at some time, for no energy is ever lost. Any good physicist would tell you that. It's balance! So, this Thanksgiving, amidst all the suffering we have co-created, I give thanks. I give thanks to balance my frustration. I give thanks to send out a positive thought to balance all the hate that is put out there every day. I give thanks to balance the moments when I ask for more. I give thanks to balance the anger I feel when I think of how we continue to hurt each other. I give thanks for the opportunity to create heaven and for the moments I have seen that make me realize it is possible. And in the end, I know that I must also give thanks for the suffering I and my fellow earth beings have experienced- for it is because of the suffering that we are driven to seek and create that nirvana. I give thanks for a future heaven on earth.
the spirit in me acknowledges the spirit in you.