The Center For Progressive Christianity
Speaking Of Our Faith
Time to Let Go of the Fear
and Start Talking

October 2009
In This Issue
:: Why I Am a Progressive Chrsitian
:: Progressive Christianity- What Is It?
:: On Using Religious Language in Public
:: More Finds
:: Are Labels Really Necessary?
:: Article Headline
:: Interspirituality
:: Will the Real Progressive Christians Please Speak Up?
:: Article Headline

Speaking of our faith is a tricky thing.  In an era of extremes and divisions, fundamentalism and dying churches there are fine lines we walk when speaking of our beliefs and especially our faith.  Faith being something we believe in, we trust, we feel to be true, but have no scientific or quantifiable proof of.  I have faith that we are here for a reason.  I have faith that the God energy of Infinite Goodness connects us all- as Ekhart Tolle puts it.  As progressive Christians we have spent good deal of energy on defining what we do not believe- that has been often discussed, debated and declared.  But fewer of us talk about what we have faith in.  After all, we are informed scholars, educated theologians, college graduates, free thinkers.  Its easy to look at the bible and the life of Jesus from a historical perspective and see it for what it is.  But then we get to the subjects of GOD, death, rebirth, heaven, and it gets a little quieter out there. 
"Faith is often used in a religious context, as in theology, where it almost universally refers to a trusting belief in a transcendent reality, or else in a Supreme Being and/or this being's role in the order of transcendent, spiritual things."  So,if we want the progressive Christian movement to grow, if we want our children to have a different perspective on God, on what we can't see or explain- it is time that we give words to our faith and time to start speaking of it to others.  This ebulletin focuses just that- people talking about their faith and having the courage to share it with the world.  We thought we would focus on blogs as it seems writers are more relaxed, less careful and more honest in that medium.  We would love to hear from you as well.

"Wide opened is the door of the Immortal to all who have ears to hear; let them send forth faith to meet it." ~Buddha

"Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a man of faith," ~ Thomas Merton.

"According to what you said there, I'd consider myself a "Progressive Christian" as well. :-) Hmmm ... gosh ... I don't think I've ever actually said that, so you are very convincing!" ~Indira
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Why I am a Progressive Christian
Blog: Wilderness Preacher
C. Drew Smith, Ph.D.

Jesus washing others feet
"Labels are interesting things. They are attempts to define what something, or someone, is. More often than not, we put labels on others as a way of trying to define them, even though we will inevitably misrepresent who they are. In the most extreme cases, we put labels on others with whom we disagree or on those we do not like in an attempt to create a caricature of them. In this sense, labels can be used as weapons to disparage those not like us..."

"As a progressive Christian I accept the reality that it is humanly difficult to love, serve and embrace others. But instead of being a conservative who judges, rejects and condemns others, and instead of being a liberal who preaches an ineffective message of tolerance, I must struggle in my journey of faith to be more inclusive and embracing of those I am called to serve..."

Progressive Christianity-
What Is it?
Blog: WonderCafe

By: "I Wonder"

path of stones
The hardest part of being conservative, liberal or progressive, is to keep reminding ourselves that none of us have all the answers. As progressives it is too easy to fall into the trap of creating human made doctrine which can be just as rigid as what we are trying to escape from. As we look at God in a new way, or see the Bible with new eyes, or learn more about the historical Jesus, or early church history, this may add more depth to our faith journey. But if it just leads us to a new form of idolatry and traps us inside a new prison of rigid dogma, then we once again become just another "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

On Using Religious Language in Public, Right and Left
Blog: The Devil's Advocate

By Daniel Schultz

talking between friends
It occurs to me that using religious language as a gloss to indicate moral seriousness doesn't take faith seriously. For that matter, it doesn't take seriously the idea that there are competing world views at work in our political discourse, let alone offer a meaningful alternative.
Calling on Americans to "love the neighbor" or to "look out for the widows and orphans in your midst" assumes that all citizens are of goodwill toward one another, and only need gentle encouragement to bring out their basic decency. It also assumes that they see one another as deserving of respect and loving care. Given recent events, I'm not sure either of those assumptions is warranted.
It's going to take a lot more than just a few name-checks of scripture to get our commonwealth back on the rails. It's going to take an entirely new story, one that is not afraid to confront the dominant narrative and to suggest a different way of understanding the American identity and purpose.
More Finds
Quotes from Discussions and Blogs

"I personally view God as having an influence in our lives. At the very, very least it is through the song of a bird, the beauty of an orchid, through the incredible power of agape love in our hearts and through our own hands when we're at our best. I think most "believers" in God could at least agree with that. I do think it is more than that as well, actually - but that's another topic. :-) How can any of us really claim to fully understand the mystery of God? I do think that Christians have a basic responsibility to speak about the influence of the Divine in our Universe and not to emphasize a deistic understanding - which can push our conceptions of the Spirit back out into an inaccessible place." ~Indira

"Although I do not believe in an interventionistic God, I feel that the creative power of the cosmos is with us when we align ourselves with IT. I think we are wasting our time trying to convince God to come over to our side--but we can convince ourselves to go over to God's side!  Having been created in God's image means that we are co-creators of Gods creation. If we actually and actively co-evolve the universe with God, in the direction that God is evolving it, and align our creative spirits with the spirit of God, then we feel that powerful unity with the ultimate Creator, and feel flooded with creativity. This feeling inspires and divinizes us, and makes us into Gods co-creators. This is beyond the interventionistic God, and far better than the interventionistic God: it is becoming an active and creative part of the active and creative Cosmos!" ~Arminius

"When I say to people I am a Progressive Christian they always want to know what that is. When I describe it, as best as I can, they usually shake their heads and say 'I didn't think that type of Christianity existed!'. It frustrates me to no end that many think that the stereo-typical Christian is a bible-bashing 'left-behinder' right-wing creationist. As much as it is perhaps counter-intuitive to the progressive disposition, perhaps we need to be more vocal, more present as an alternative!" ~Adrian Gibb

"I think that while we need some evangelism - as in "marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause" - we are very hesitant to behave in this way because of the way we have seen traditional evangelism work. I think most of us see our spiritual journey as a quiet, reflective, and personal one and we certainly wouldn't want to tell anyone else how they should proceed on their journey. The idea of traditional marketing or promotion seems very contradictory to our message." ~Matt Hiland

Are Labels Really Necessary?
A Discussion on the
TCPC Message Board
Excerpt from: Derek Ward
(alias Tariki)

I am on hand
"It seems to me that "reality" lies beyond words. Words have their uses, but also their limits.
Expanding on this a bit, it seems to me that "labels" always have their own context, and when the context is lost then things get out of focus. Our minds act like a microscope. Looking at Christianity, which seems appropriate here, there is Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox, the various Protestant varieties......and adjusting the microscope, within Catholicism, "liberals" and "moderns" and traditionalists".....Cistercians, Benedictines, Trappists.......and mystics, ancient and modern......then onto the individual hearts and minds experiencing the reality of their faith according to their own lives as lived and experienced themselves, as it has unfolded uniquely for them. It just seems that if we lose the context our minds then can get out of focus, and we throw words and labels over something or somebody and we lose empathy and communion with them, divided by assumed judgements."

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Blog: Musings

By: Jim Burklo

light through the heart
Here at the University of Southern California, part of my job as Associate Dean of Religious Life is to staff the student Interfaith Council.  This group of 15-20 students from many different religious backgrounds gathers every week for an evening of discussion over dinner.  The students share about their faith traditions and spiritual journeys, and with fascination learn a great deal from each other. .
Most of the students in our group identify with one or another recognizable faith tradition.  But several do not.  These students are nonetheless intensely interested in religion and spirituality.  Since we usually have newcomers at each gathering, the students go around the room and identify themselves.  Last year, one of our unaffiliated students described himself as "interspiritual".

Will The Real Progressive Christians Please Speak Up?
Blog: Open Path
By: Deshna Ubeda

In my work for TCPC over the last 3 years- I have noticed that most progressive Christians do not really like to talk about their beliefs.  The comments on our TCPC Facebook are minimal though there are a large number of "friends;" when I am looking for articles I basically have to become a private investigator searching the world for hidden progressive Christian authors that aren't white-male-over-50; and in conversations one generally hears only two sides of the Christian perspective- those that think its a bunch of outdated crap and those that are trying to save the world, one soul at a time.

Feature Sermon of the Month Authenticity- Don't Hide Your Light
By: Ian Lawton

To paraphrase a famous Jewish proverb, when you reach the next world, God will not ask you, "Why were you not like Moses?" Instead the question will be, "Why were you not more yourself?"
The way to be all that you can be is to be more yourself. I mean you right now, not after some spiritual makeover; but as you are now, without any pretence and with the layers of conditioned thinking stripped bare. When you hear an inner voice say, "Yes, I am fully myself and authentic in this moment", then follow that voice. I'm talking about the sort of moments when your skin tingles with the goodness of life and your place in it.
When you are boldly and confidently yourself, you are offering your highest good to the world. Is that something you aspire to in your life?

Children Praying a New Story- By: Michael Morwood

book cover
Michael Morwood's previous books have received wide acclaim for helping adult Christians to re-imagine and re-evaluate their faith in light of the contemporary "story" about our universe. That story and Morwood's writings challenge Christians to expand their notion of God beyond a localized, personal deity and to embrace belief in an all-pervasive Mystery beyond our human concepts. They challenge Christians to review any understanding of Jesus as the unique "way" to a localized God and to know him as the revealer of this Mystery in our everyday living and loving.  This book is for adult Christians engaged in this shift, now asking the vital questions:
How do we educate children into this new faith perspective?
How do we pray with them if prayer is not about addressing an external, listening Deity?
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Thank you for taking this journey with us as we continue to encourage the growth and understanding of a Christianity that is open, inclusive, just, loving and compassionate.  As you delve deeper into the heart of this beautiful and authentic spiritual path, we hope you share it with those around you, educate those who desire to learn, and most importantly let it fill you with light and loving kindness.
Fred Plumer
and the Team at The Center For Progressive Christianity, (253) 303-0022

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