The Center For Progressive Christianity
The Power of Myth
Allow the Beauty of Myth to Transform You
November 2009
In This Issue
Global Ministries University
Butterflyfish CD
Myth and the Genesis Stories
The Christmas Myth is the Story of the Human Family
Religion is Not About Belief

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Spiritual but not Religious: Chasing the Divine
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What is the essential difference between spiritual and religious? What can religious institutions learn from those who claim to be one and not the other? And what kind of critique can those who call themselves "religious" offer of the concept "spiritual, but not religious"?

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New Music from the TCPC Store
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Music for children and the whole family!
"Butterflyfish is musically vibrant, surprising and exciting: it blends styles as diverse as bluegrass, country, jazz and gospel, in a way that brings out that characteristic joy and lilt and humour of American folk music. And the lyrics (all written by Matt Boulton) are quite wonderful: linguistically inventive, poetically playful, and at times also theologically serious and reflective."
Mecca- a Poem
by: Jim Burklo

Dates dangle from the crown of the palm
Climb for a cluster at red-rimmed dawn
Add your dust to glowing wind
Make your plea to the whirling djinn
Walk the blade of a shifting dune
Breathe the mood of a cricket's tune
Keep the secrets of the sighing sands
Guard the shadow in your folded hands

from Musings, a TCPC blog

This is an exciting time for us here at TCPC.  We are well into the finishing stages of our progressive Christian Children's Curriculum Project and as we continue creating and exploring ways to make it the best we can we are coming to realize that this work will truly be groundbreaking.  While there is a wealth of traditional and fundamental Christian curriculum out there, there is very little for churches and families wanting progressive, inclusive, compassionate curriculum that honors the story of Jesus.  In planning some of the final lessons, the idea of Myth came up and we started reflecting on how powerful myth is in our culture and our spiritual paths.  Shall we explain to children that there is myth in the Bible?  Will they understand that?  Then looking around, we realized so much in society is based on and celebrates myth.  Just look at the traditional holidays that we consume!  We realized that, yes, it is imperative that we talk about myth with our children.  But we don't want to just deconstruct the mythical stories of the Bible, we want to celebrate the power of them!  The beauty of them! As we enter into the Holiday season, let us not be afraid to celebrate the myths of our traditions.  For "myth is infinitely more transformative and true than history any time." 

I know you will enjoy this month's articles from our library.  And if you are looking for gifts that have meaning, take a peek at our store- there are some new items that we know you'll love.
As the leaves continue to fall and the earth prepares to sleep may we allow the power of myth to transform our lives adding meaning and beauty to our spiritual paths.
Myth and the Genesis Stories
By: Fred Plumer, TCPC President
It is impossible for us today to fathom the world view that the ancients who created these stories must have had.  We really cannot grasp what it was like to look out in the stars, to travel, to watch the days get shorter with no obvious reason,  to deal with the seasons, watch babies be born without an understanding of basic biology, science,  without airplanes, space ships, Hubble telescopes, physicists, calendars, let alone computers and GPS. These were people, after all, who believed that the earth was flat and covered with a dome that had holes in it. For them, the stars were God's or the gods' light shining through those holes. 

As I sat there that morning, pondering these ancient stories that have been analyzed, dissected and repeatedly reanalyzed for maybe three thousand years, my mind flashed back in time, maybe four or even five thousand years back. I saw a nomadic tribe sitting around their fire pit cooking their meal and talking quietly, much like the Bedouin tribes I observed when I traveled to Israel.  There was an old woman talking quietly to a little girl, maybe five years old, tucked into her side for warmth and comfort. 

"Savta," the little girl almost whispers, "why did Alaha make my Ima cry and scream so much when my little brother came out? Did she do something wrong?"

The Christmas Myth Is The Story of the Human Family
By: Tom Harpur
From the book: Living Waters
A vast segment of humanity has been telling itself this same story of a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem for many centuries now; peace and goodwill towards all the clan of Homo sapiens. But nothing has changed. Bethlehem itself has become synonymous with violence. Just now, as the Christmas fervor is being driven towards its annual climax, once-Christian nations are waging war against other countries.

What is the deeper story that has somehow been twisted wholly out of shape and so layered over with trite or fraudulent wrappings that the real gift is rarely ever envisioned let alone observed and gratefully received? Is there, was there ever some precious thing of matchless beauty, power and grace at the very heart of Christmas something-with flaming potency to transform our lives, our world? The answer is a resounding, all-embracing yes, but it's not won by glib or lazy wishful thinking. Mere repetition of literalistic tales and pious traditions can never get us there. One can go through the entire process by rote or on automatic pilot, and miss the "many splendored thing."

This brings us to what many may find to be a tough medicine or even drastic surgery. But if one is to pass beyond the childish and the external to the core of what Christmas is all about, it's an essential step. What one has to realize first of all is that the story of the birth of Jesus is a myth. No, not a fairy tale, not a legend, not a piece of fiction to be seen through and dropped at puberty or before, but a spiritual myth-in other words, a truth so vast and so important to our human condition that it can only be told in the most profound language of all, the language of symbolism, allegory and metaphor.

Religion Is Not About Belief-
Karen Armstrong's -The Case for God
By:Brian McGrath Davis
child laughing from:

"Until well into the modern period," Armstrong contends, "Jews and Christians both insisted that it was neither possible nor desirable to read the Bible literally, that it gives us no single, orthodox message and demands constant reinterpretation." Myths were symbolic, often therapeutic, teaching stories and were never understood literally or historically. But that all changed with the advent of modernity. Precipitated by the rediscovery of Aristotle and the rise of scholasticism in the late middle ages, rational systematization took center stage, preparing the way for a modern period that would welcome both humanistic individualism and the eventual triumph of reason and science.

The early modern world was astir with cultural renewal, technological innovation, and religious reformation. The printing press captured the oral tradition on the written page, and the printed word became a matter of depersonalized, static precision. Henceforth, all religious quarrels (both those between Rome and the reformers and those amongst Protestant sects) would be suffused with an ever-increasing need to define oneself and one's dogmatic opinions in relation to the (often heretical) other.

Love the Hell Out of Each Other
Feature Sermon
By: Ian Lawton,

Hell is a religious myth intended to hold you captive to fear and the church's teachings. Stand up to the myth and pull its beard. You will find that it comes off in your hand. You can not be denied. You are an adventurer, storming the gates of hell and fear.
The good news- There is no reason to believe there is an actual place of eternal suffering after life called hell.
The bad news- There is a place within you where you torture yourself with judgment and fear. This is the hell that you put yourself in and through.  The good news- there is a way out of hell.


From the TCPC Blog- Open Path
Time Travel in Death
By: Deshna Ubeda
granddad dying
My Granddad recently passed.  It was an amazing gift to be able to be present for part of his passing.  The full circle of life became so evident- to me it only makes sense that the circle would continue to revolve.  It doesn't come to some halt, to some mythical place where souls are distributed.  Little by little as he was stripped of his body, his mind and his fear, his true Spirit was evident. He died in peace- thankfully.  It had not been a peaceful three years. 

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
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