Creating a Culture of Peace

 Breaking Down The Walls of Religion

January 2008

In This Issue
President's Message
A Poem-Leaving Home
What Comes After Christianity
Tribal Religion, Transcendent Religion

Featured Sermon

Kindred Spirits in Moderate (Progressive) Islam

by: Ian Lawton
As moderate Muslims, and Progressive Christians, as human beings on a spiritual quest you are Taliban on your own inner jihad, fighting the tendency towards ungratefulness and despair. In partnership, we can get organized and offer an alternative to the fanaticism of Islam and Christianity- a contemporary spirituality based in peace, compassion and mercy- the way Mohammed and Jesus and the other Axial prophets intended.

Click Here to Read Sermon: Kindred
To See Video of this Sermon, Click Here:  View

Ian is a TCPC Executive Board Member and Pastor of Christ Community Church, in West Michigan.
TCPC Quicklinks

Here are a few of our latest NEWS headlines:

New Website Gives Peace a Space

Interfaith Youth Core Aims to Builds Mutual Respect and Pluralism

Court Ends Bible Distribution in School

Prepare for Evolution Sunday (February 10) and Darwin Day (February 12)

For ALL TCPC News, click here: News


The Living Spiritual Elders Project
Jan 7, 2007: New College
Sarasota, FL

Jesus Seminar On the Road
Feb 8, 2007: All over the states!

Churches and Candidates
Jan 10, 2008: Westminster Presbyterian Church
Tiburon, CA

Jesus and Our Faith
Jan 16, 2008: Cross Creek Community Church
Centerville, OH

Voting Justice, Voting Hope
Apr 11, 2008: Plymouth Congregational Church
Minneapolis, MN

love alike

Featured Music

Allan Comeau's new CD, "Life Is in Session"

music sheet
click on above image

mountains President's Message
Excerpts from
"Time to Break for Lunch"
By: Fred Plumer

I attended a conference a few years ago that was devoted to exploring the virtues of interfaith dialogue.  The four keynote speakers were made up of a conservative Jewish scholar, a well respected Muslim scholar, a Buddhist author and a traditionalist Christian. . .Later, I realized how ironic it was, as we ambled off to our respective lunch gatherings, that so much of what we have reconstructed about Jesus was about the table commensality as a way of practicing radical egalitarianism, as John Dominic Crossan referred to it . I tried to imagine the Jesus of my faith, having lunch with the unique kind people who seemed to gather around him. Did he worry about their religious affiliations? Did he care if they had it right? Did he believe his religion was the only way to connect with the Ultimate Reality?  When he said, "Do not judge another" did he mean don't judge except for their religion? 

Or did he look directly into the hearts and souls of others without religious, tribal, ethnic, or gender concerns or thoughts? Was he able to transcend all of those things that tend to separate us into divisive groups that so often turn into violent differences?

To Continue Reading, Click Here:  Time to Break

man walking away Leaving Home- A Poem

by David Kieghley,
an English Anglican Priest

Published on the online newsletter/blog of John Shelby Spong,
"I want to share with you
something written by a priest in the Church of England, who is under pressure from his Bishop to conform to traditional Church teaching and practice. He is, so far as I can discern, a faithful priest who is caught in that awkward position where he must violate his own conscience and integrity in order to conform to ecclesiastical expectations. Many clergy live in that place today as the Church becomes more and more closed minded and afraid and as its leaders move to put unity ahead of truth. I was so impressed with his work that I wanted to share it with you." ~ John Shelby Spong

I'm off!
I must leave the political and ethical compromises that have corrupted the
faith of my Jesus.
I must leave the stifling theology, the patriarchal structures.
I must leave the enduring prejudices based on our God-given humanity, the colour of my skin, my gender or how my sexual orientation is practiced.
I must leave the mentality that encourages anyone to think that our doctrines are unchangeable.
I must leave the belief of those who insist that our sacred texts are without error.
I must leave the God of miracle and magic.
I must leave the promises of certainty, the illusion of possessing the true faith.
I must leave behind the claims of being the recipient of an unchallengeable revelation.
I must leave the neurotic religious desire to know that I am right, and to play at being God.
I must leave the claim that every other pathway to God is second-rate, that fellow Hindu
    searchers in India, Buddhists in China and Tibet, Muslims in the Middle East
and the   
    Jews of Israel are inadequate.
I must leave the pathway that tells me that all other directions will get me lost.
I must leave the certain claim that my Jesus is the only way to God for everyone.
I must leave the ultimate act of human folly that says it is.
I must leave the Church, my home.

To Read the Rest of this Poem, click here: Leaving

earth What Comes After Christianity?
By: Andrew Furlong

Religions speak of God or Ultimate Reality as beyond description and beyond knowing. God's existence or non-existence cannot be proved nor can we prove that some ideas about God reflect God's character better than others (that's if God exists - isn't this life's central uncertainty?). However if God exists, God is ineffable, impossible for a human mind to grasp and comprehend. All we can do is construct our images, our symbols and our metaphors to convey what we guess God might be like. Over the centuries many ideas have been generated - some are good, others are repulsive. God remains mysterious, hidden and elusive. Indeed does not life itself contain the inexpressible?

Are we moving to an age when human beings will no longer think of themselves as Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Hindus etc.? Perhaps people (whether they have a religious or a non-religious interpretation of life) will simply think of themselves as human beings and citizens of one global village who search for meaning and in doing so draw from a global resource of wisdom and spirituality to which religious and humanist traditions have contributed.

To Read the Rest of this Article, Click Here: After


Tribal Religion, Transcendent Religion

By: Eboo Patel
Washington Post, On Faith

There is a story about a Christian minister living abroad during World War II. His congregation sends him money so that he can return home for Christmas. When he doesn't come back, they ask him why. He says that he used the money to help a group of Jews escape Hitler's death camps and flee to safety.

"But they're not even Christian," writes one member of his congregation.

"Yes, I know," the minister responds. "But I am."

All religions have both types of people - the tribal and the transcendent. The tribal type see in the particular narratives of their tradition a narrowing of concern, and therefore care only about the people who look like them, talk like them and pray like them. 
The transcendent see in the same particularity a universalizing of care, and therefore focus their energies on all people, especially groups most in need, regardless of creed.   If tribal religion wins, it necessarily pits groups against one another based on identity, and it means that people like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are right - religion will destroy everything. 
If transcendent faith wins, it opens the possibility for different identity groups to use their particular narratives to articulate a collective vision that includes everybody. If that isn't the future, there will be no future.

To Finish this Article Click here: Transcendent

Old Church Inside Survey Non-attendees find faith outside church

By Cathy Lynn Grossman ("USA Today",
January 9, 2008)

New York, USA - A new survey of U.S. adults who don't go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say "God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists." But just as many (72%) also say the church is "full of hypocrites."

Indeed, 44% agree with the statement "Christians get on my nerves."

LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, based in
Nashville, conducted the survey of 1,402 "unchurched" adults last spring and summer. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The survey defines "unchurched" as people who had not attended a religious service in a church, synagogue or mosque at any time in the past six months.

More than one in five (22%) of Americans say they never go to church, the highest ever recorded by the General Social Survey, conducted every two years by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In 2004, the percentage was 17%.

To See the Rest of the Survey, Click here:  Unchurched

book cover Featured Book

Welcome to the Wisdom of the World
and it's Meaning for You

By Joan Chittister

Review by: G. Richard Wheatcroft

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine abbess, is executive director of Benetvision: A Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality in Erie, Pennsylvania.  She begins her book by reminding the reader that all people, who have lived at all times and places, have confronted and struggled with the same kind of questions arising out of the human condition and have arrived at their own answers. She writes, "This book is meant to explore how those other cultures, other peoples - long before us, and apparently completely unlike us - have answered the same kinds of life questions that plague us now."  She is convinced they have left us a "reservoir of wisdom as broad as the sky, as deep as history." The purpose of her book is to "profit from the wisdom of those who in other ages and traditions grappled with the same kinds of human concerns we have now - only differently."

She emphasizes that the concerns with which her book deals do not come from theology and philosophy.  The concerns come from ordinary people who reach out for help in living their daily lives. In her vocation as a Benediction abbess and director of Benetvision, she receives countless letters from people sharing their personal lives, their questions and concerns, their deep emotions, pleading for help and engaging in philosophical reflection. She writes, "It is those issues, those questions - the questions and issues that plague my readers and fill my mail - with which this book deals. But it is far more than that as well. It is also about the way other people, in other ages, other cultures, other spiritual traditions, have dealt with these subjects."

To Read the Rest of the Review, Click here:  Wisdom
Progressive Christianity isn't about what we aren't, what we don't believe, who we aren't and what's wrong.  It is about seeing ourselves in all, about what we can do to progress, to grow, to evolve.  It is about making change.  It is about opening doors, it is about spreading love and acceptance.  It is about respect and compassion for ourselves, our human sisters and brothers, and our home earth.  It is about striving to experience and co-create a culture of peace and prosperity.  This year, we invite you to join us on the path that Jesus taught, the path that many wise people have walked, the path of peace and compassion in which we see ourselves as each part of the Sacred Mystery.

Thank you for your support of TCPC.  We look forward to the journey.

The Team at TCPC
Fred Plumer, President
253 303-0022