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  • As you probably noticed in the Collect, today the Church remembers a saint with a name as difficult to pronounce as his life story is to tell.  It would take most of the afternoon to discuss the tumultuous political and religious climate in western Europe in the late fifth and early sixth centuries, but suffice it to say, things were complicated.  Remigius, thankfully better known in his native tongue as Remi, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  His father was the Count of Laon and his mother was the daughter of a Bishop.  Remi was a brilliant student, and rose quickly to prominence for his wisdom and learning.  In about the year 460, Remi was elected Bishop of Rheims, even though he had not yet been ordained a priest or even a deacon! Bishop Remi lived well past his 90th birthday and served the church as a bishop for 70 years!  That would be enough to be remembered as a saint all on its own, but Remi’s real claim to fame is that he saved orthodox Christianity from...

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  • When I read today’s gospel lesson (Luke 5:27-39), I had a hard time figuring out a contemporary analogy for Jesus calling a tax collector to be his disciple. Although there are IRS agents in our culture and we might not like them very much, they don’t carry the kind of anti-religious, traitorous, extortionary behavior that tax collectors had back then. Loan sharks get a little closer to it, but they’re not hated enough to make a good comparison. I’m still trying to figure out what it really means that Jesus chose Levi to be his follower and that he frequently ate with other tax collectors and sinners. Whom does society define by their sin—the kind of people we wouldn’t dream of our minister having dinner with? Strippers? Prostitutes? Human traffickers? Child molesters?The point of this gospel lesson isn’t that Jesus made enough room at his table for a generic, still-ok-to-talk-about-at-supper-club sinner. Instead, he’s spending an inordinate amount of time with the worst sinners in...

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  • The book Religion and Doctor Who: Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith is now available for Kindle from Amazon.com. The Kindle price is $9.99, which is significantly less than the price of the print volume, and even cheaper than the Kindle book for the British edition.

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  • Nikos

    Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.Sometimes, it only takes a moment.Sometimes, it only takes a spark,and sometimes, it only takes an idiot.The destination was Kansas City,but I had a connecting flight through Chicago.My return trip home would bring me back through windy city.It was in Kansas City that I heard the news…..someone had deliberately set fire to a buildingnear the air traffic control tower in Chicago,virtually shutting down the second busiest airport in the US.Having two days remaining in my trip,I assumed that things would be cleared up by my return.Not really.I got back to my hotel fairly latethe night before my return.I checked my flight status on line.Connecting flight to Chicago…..CANCELED1amThis is not news that anyone wants to hear in the wee hours of the night.I frantically called the  800 number that was listed....

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  • The latest Biblical Studies Carnival has been posted on the Cataclysmic blog. See also Reading Acts for information about future carnivals – and opportunities to host them.Brian Small has the past month’s Hebrews Highlights.There is lots more that is new on the Bible Odyssey website.Of related interest, David Stark shared information about University of St. Andrews theses online, Ben Witherington has reached part 86 (!) in his series blogging through N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, and there is information about what is happening at GTS on Safe Seminary, the Episcopal Cafe website and elsewhere.And finally, I’m just sharing this for the element of surprise (HT Marc Cortez):

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  • I have a confession to make.  My eldest child, FBC, loves Spongebob Squarepants.  She gets it honest, her mother and I were known to watch it well into our twenties.  To say it is a show that she shouldn’t be watching is probably an understatement, but she’s a PK and we don’t want her to be a victim of her circumstances, so we fudge some.  There are rules to watching Spongebob however.  We tend to be selective about which episodes get chosen from the DVR library, and that standing rule in our house is if you say the word stupid, you can’t watch Spongebob.  FBC knows the rule so well that she’ll correct anyone and everyone she hears saying the forbidden word.  “Uh Oh, so-and-so can’t watch Spongebob,” has been heard on multiple occasions. After three days of trying to figure out just who is stupid in the ongoing brew-ha-ha between Jesus and the Chief Priests in Matthew 21, three days of not being allowed to watch Spongebob (thankfully),...

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  • Tonight, the UW Episcopal community will gather at 1011 University Ave (St. Francis House) at 6:30 p.m., for a shared meal (free!), prayer, and continued conversation on the book Slow Church. This is the 3rd of 4 conversations, but fear not! Each conversation is made to stand alone. For the interested, here are last week's notes. Notes from the first week are here. These notes are adapted from the online study guide, which is available here. Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of JesusPart I: EthicsI. Taste (Terroir)We taste and see *and* “it is partly through through the church that the world tastes God.”Matthew 5:13  Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.”“Salt has a tendency to dissolve, and there is something of Christlikeness in that” (Phil 2:3-7).Coffee and the Eucharist (57-58).Questions: What things - for instance, people, practices, convictions - define your [faith community[ and give it its distinctive taste? How can we celebrate these...

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  • Larry Patten

    On the ridge, to my right, I sensed movement. It wasn’t my eyes playing tricks. Something was there. I stopped. Bear. No, look! Two! A mother bear and her cub. There they were, midday, in the open, on a ridge at nearly 9,000 feet in the Yosemite backcountry. Before I put my pack down to grab for my camera, I took a few extra seconds to watch. I was the only human around. The rest of the folks on my church’s July backpack were either behind me or ahead of me on the trail. Just me, a mother bear, and her cub. What I want to share with you now all occurs in the next 2-3 seconds. I still haven’t developed my pictures from the trip and I don’t want to talk about the time it took me to take the final two shots on my roll of film. I also don’t want to talk about how, after I reloaded the camera, that the bears were gone. Out of sight. Vamoosed. Though this encounter occurred years ago, I vividly remember and rejoice in those fleeting seconds of transforming from a weary hiker burdened by a...

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  • I saw this ad for the upcoming Left Behind movie on the blog Speculative Faith:There is no sense in which Left Behind is “based on a true story” – even one that hasn’t happened yet. It is based on an impressionistic reading of Revelation that ignores its original context, and often ignores what it explicitly says, and finds ways of turning it into a story that conveys the authors’ twisted theological ideology.Of related interest, Fred Clark is continuing to skewer the Left Behind series in his blog review of Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist. His review posts provide ample evidence of why the Left Behind series is poor literature as well as poor theology and poor Biblical interpretation.

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  • Brian McLaren

    I'm a huge fan of summer camp, especially camps with a goal of spiritual formation and enrichment. I gained so much from camp experiences in my childhood and youth, and it breaks my heart to think that too few kids get to enjoy the beauty of creation that camps often provide. I plan to write further in coming months about some of the reasons I am such a firm believer in summer camps, but first, I wanted to share (with permission) this story that friend shared with me: When I was 11 years old, I went away to church camp in the mountains. To this day, it stands out in my memory as one of the most meaningful weeks of my childhood. It was an "evangelical" church camp, so there was memorization of Bible verses, praise songs around the campfire, and an emphasis on building community. It wasn't like the "Jesus Camp" movie, but it had an agenda of getting the kids to "ask Jesus into their hearts" by the end of the week. The most impactful moment for me was when we slept outside under the...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    So far in this series I have raised questions about the doctrine of biblical inerrancy suggesting that it not only is not a helpful approach to interpreting biblical texts, but it can indeed distort the biblical narrative itself. In this post, I turn my attention to more progressive readings of the Bible, which in the final analysis are just as problematic as readings designed to protect inerrancy. My friend, Lee Wyatt outlines the apparent options before us:It's always dangerous to try and simplify complex debates, but I'm going to do it anyway. It seems to me that in regard to God and Warfare in the Old Testament we have three basic options.First, to accept the accounts at face value either to damn the OT deity or to valorize him for his pursuit of justice in Israel's wars.Second, to explain away God's involvement in the commands and practice of warfare as described in the Old Testament, either to damn the Old Testament as primitive and irrelevant to Christian moral reflection...

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  • Tamed Cynic

    ‘The first hour of heaven is like an endless room filled with 2-top coffee tables…’ So says my friend Scot McKnight, author of the Jesus Creed blog and book, who preached for us this weekend. In advance of his upcoming book, A Kingdom Conspiracy, Scot preached on the church as a kingdom community of forgiveness and reconciliation. We should be about the work of forgiving the people in our lives, Scot argues, because we’ll have to do the first hour in heaven any way. His text was the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. You can listen to his sermon here below, in the sidebar to the right, or download it in iTunes here.     Follow @cmsvoteup

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  • Irreverent

    Charlottesville, Virginia.The very name conjures up gentility, history, marble columns, and educational ideals that can be traced back to one of the nation's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.When you think about Charlottesville, you don't imagine young women barely out of high school being abducted, assaulted and disappearing.But that what seems to have happened to as many as five women, including one Virginia Tech student, Morgan Harrington, whose remains were found in a farm field in 2009 several months after she had disappeared while leaving a Metallica concert.Now police apparently have found forensic evidence that connects Jesse Matthew, a suspect in the disappearance of UVA student Hannah Graham, with Morgan Harrington. Five young adults disappear, possibly all victims of one pathological killer, and no one thinks to connect the dots until now?  No wonder, as a commentator said on CNN this evening, that the people of Charlottesville are outraged.Why isn't anyone...

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  • Philippians 3:4-14Like the apostle Paul I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh. Born to Lutheran educators, baptized in my first month, memorized the liturgy before I could read, confirmed by my thirteenth year, graduate of a Lutheran grade school, high school, college, and seminary and served as a Lutheran grade school teacher, youth director and pastor. I know we’re saved by grace but surely a Lutheran pedigree like that counts for something? Of course it does and in many ways it is the reason I am able to press on to take hold of the Christ who took hold of me through the water of baptism and the faith of parents and teachers. Paul considers confidence in the flesh as loss but clearly values the heritage it represents as well as the brothers and sisters according to the flesh for whom he would sacrifice his salvation. (Romans 9:3) So while we place no confidence in our religious pedigree we are grateful for the formation that does not happen without the family of faith....

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  • I’ve been thinking a lot recently about teaching and learning. It began when I re-worked a recent presentation and instead designed a set of interaction exercises. Most loved it, one resisted it. Friday I head for New Zealand to deliver three keynote addresses. Expecting an audience of around 500, I was warned today that people […]

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  • Nikos

    Sermon (October 5) - "Living Generously: Who Is the Boss?"II Corinthians 8:1-7The Apostle Paul wrote this letter which has a very different tone from his first letter to the Corinthians. Since that first letter, a very difficult problem had emerged in the church and Paul addresses it in this new letter. The letter ends on a positive note of the good news of our faith in Jesus Christ.Paul is hoping that the church in Corinth will set aside money for a special offering that will benefit the impoverished church in Jerusalem. He briefly wrote about this special offering in his first letter to them (I Corinthians 16:1-4.) This offering will not only help the church in Jerusalem but it will also be an expression of unity between a Gentile Church (the Corinthian Church) and a Jewish Church (the Jerusalem Church.)Even though this offering will do much good for the kingdom of God both in practicality (helping a church suffering through a time of famine) and symbolically (expressing unity...

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  • A Facebook page shared this image:I tried typing in those words and didn’t get the same suggestion, and so this is presumably either photoshopped or an indication of what the person who made it usually searches for. When I tried typing in variations, I found this:I’ve never found an academic conference to be a waste of time. Even when the papers have not been of interest to me (and that has never been all or even most of the papers at a conference I’ve attended, except at big ones where most of the papers are supposed to be irrelevant to you, because it is a conference covering a big field), the conversations have been meaningful to me not only personally but professionally.But I expected that when I typed in “Academic conferences are…” it would suggest adding “expensive.” And so the question of whether universities with tight budgets will continue to fund travel to conferences is a question that we should be pro-active in thinking about...

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  • Anonymous, Jesus the Tagger. Berlin. Some moons ago, the Global Mission Office (GMO) of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) kindly invited me to write a little theology of mission. I was very pleased to do so. The wee piece, which has since been elevated to being an official statement of the GMO, seeks to not only bear witness to the ground and end of mission in the triune life (a subject I’ve posted on before) but also to relate these to what the PCANZ refers to as its ‘five faces of mission’ – to work with others to make Jesus Christ known: Through proclamation of the gospel Through the nurture and teaching of people in the Christian faith Through response to human need in loving service Through seeking to transform society Through care for creation You can read the statement here.Filed under: Mission, PCANZ, Theology

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  • I'm not going to tell you that I didn't know this was coming. Some things have surprised me, but I knew very well that the story was going where it leads today.And I know now the real entrance.  Once upon a time an old friend of mine from high school told me how he'd hit his wife, how he couldn't believe it himself, how he'd been an abuser. And it had happened, he said, in this way--she was hitting their child, and he hit her. But the story emerged from his guilt, which is to say he was confessing his sin to me, not because he needed my forgiveness but because he was trying to explain to me how shocked he was at his own darkness.That story, combined with the funeral story, is what got me into this long piece of fiction.And, in case you're wondering, we're at the climax, the dramatic climax of the story.___________________________I wondered whether she might still be awake when the wash of my headlights came over the wall outside our bedroom, but the upstairs bathroom light was on...

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  • Therese was the youngest child of nine children born in Alencon, France. Louis, her father, was a man of vibrant and life-changing faith who had applied to be a monk in his younger days. Though his passion and earnestness was not questioned, he did not know (and didn't have much prospect of learning) Latin. Consequently, he was rejected from the monastic life. Azélie-Marie Guérin, Louis' wife and Therese's mother, shared the same eager and deep faith that her husband professed and proclaimed. She had considered becoming a nun but had been rejected as unfit for the convent on lack of skills. Though Therese's parents were rejected from the cloistered life, they were gladly and lavishly accepted into Christ's Kingdom and guided their children toward this same goal. Therese's mother died when Therese was only four years old and this caused Louis to move the family to Lisieux to be closer to family in this time of crisis.Therese had a passion within her...

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  • In Holy Splendor and Awe--Oct. 1, 2014In holy splendor we would worship you, O God, and in awe we tremble before you--not out of fear, but because of your goodness and the great things you have done. Especially we praise you for Jesus, who came to call not the righteous but sinners like us to repentance. Lectionary Readings Ps. 96; 147:1-11; 132; 134 Hosea 3:1-5 Acts 21:15-26 Luke 5:27-39 Selected Verses Ps. 96:9 Worship the LORD in holy splendor;          tremble before him, all the earth. Hosea 3:5 Afterward the Israelites shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days. Acts 21:19-20a After greeting [the Jerusalem brothers], Paul related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  When they heard it, they praised God. Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered [those who complained about his eating with sinners], "...

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  • Three caveats before I start: 1) I failed to do my homework before the CPCUCC Annual Meeting which led to my failure to speak out to the assembled; 2) I feel woefully inadequate to address solutions to conflict in the Mid-East; and 3) I am deeply troubled by Israel’s actions directed at the Palestinian population.   *** The Palestine-Israel Network of the CPCUCC calls the gathered to pass “A Resolution of Witness ” Photo by Maggie Sebastian The Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ met last weekend for their Annual Meeting. The gathering passed “A Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” I voted against this resolution which can be read here. (This is the original version without friendly amendments added during the meeting.) My concerns about this document began when I read materials on the information table. Terms like “European Jewish colonialism” and frequent use of the term “Jews”...

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  • My Good Wife Debra was born in 1957 in the town of Colquitt in Miller County, Georgia (for the uninitiated, it’s located in deep southwest Georgia not too far north of Florida and not too far east of Alabama); she was the last of the six children born to her parents. When she was two her family moved to the nearby county of Calhoun and it was there that she spent the remainder of her growing up

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    ... to register for the Wesleyan Leadership Conference. It is definitely worth your time.Check it out here.

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  • In Sunday’s sermon, I posited that Jesus was not stupid.  In yesterday’s post, I suggested that the Chief Priests and the Elders might have been.  Today, I’m wondering, as I do every time the Parable of the Wicked Tenants comes around: Is God Stupid?  Clearly the landowner was.  Why in the heck did he think that sending his son, after the tenants had beaten and killed any number of slaves, was in anyway a good idea?  If he was going to diffuse the situation, shouldn’t he have gone himself and either a) fixed things with his magical landowner powers or b) killed the lot of them in a messy and violent way? This is, of course, the argument that many people make about God.  Why did he send his Son to do the dirty work?  Didn’t he know what was going to happen?  Surely, if he’s omnipotent, omniscient, and all powerful, God could have fixed the mess that is humanity by either a) waving a magic grace wand to make us all suck less or b) kill us all in a...

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