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The CCblogs network is a community of independent bloggers exploring the Christian faith. The Christian Century facilitates the network but does not edit posts or take responsibility for them.

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  • Head and Heart

    A theological group I am in asked me to talk to them about blogging. This is what I had to say…The word blogging is so new it isn’t even found in my old college Dictionary. One definition is: a web site that contains personal reflections, comments, and often links to other by the writer. A blog is really an internet journal.My own experience with blogging goes back to December 2008.  I don’t know about you but my adult photo by eleaf / flickrchildren are petrified that their folks will be out of touch, laughed at by the masses, not knowing what is going on and embarrass the daylights out of them.So my son said in 2008, “What you need is a blog. You like to write--you ought to do this. “ I didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s a way of communicating and you need something to do.”He was right about “something to do.” After six churches and seven Interims my wife proclaimed, “Ok. It’s time to stop. Living out of suitcases, sleeping in somebody’s else apartment or condo—not...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and given an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting God's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. "The challenge of death comes to us all and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone.... I will not be with you then, nor you with me" (Luther).But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will only be one member of the great...

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  • Last night at dinner with friends it hit me when I said out loud, "Two weeks from... RIGHT NOW we will be sitting in some club in the East Village at the start of our magical, mystery tour." That is sobering - two weeks - and exciting, too. Today, a stunning warm spring day in the Berkshires will be given over to travel choirs. The house is all cleaned. The yard has been raked and the drainage trench dug. The car has passed inspection and all our reservations have been confirmed. Two weeks... Last night we also rehearsed Sunday's jazz selections: it is always a treat to work with Jon Haddad and Carlton Maaia II. They are never flashy, always tuned in to the heart of the song and creative in ways that help me share my gifts in the best possible light. It is a treasure to work with them. Our guest sound man, Rob Dumais, was in the house, too and he brings a gentle, calming presence to everything he does - and makes the house sound system sing!So let me just say that today is one filled...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    I just returned this past Tuesday from a ten day trip to Cuba. I taught in the Methodist seminary in Havana and did some preaching in the Methodist church in Guanabacoa, which is a municipality of Havana. I have been traveling to Cuba for ten years, and every time I go I am struck by two things: the abject poverty and how much ministry the churches in Cuba accomplish with so little monetary resources. The church in America exists in plenty and often complains about scarcity, while the church in Cuba exists in scarcity and emphasizes plenty. Focus does indeed determine reality, or in this case effectiveness in mission.___Speaking of Cuba, while there my friends spoke of thawing relations between their government and the U.S in hopeful ways. They know it's going to be a long process, but for them this is good news. I believe this is a step in the right direction. All the embargo has done is make impoverished Cubans even more impoverished and made the Castro brothers billionaires....

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  • I recently had a dream in which I was at an academic conference of some sort. After listening to a paper, in which Orphism had been mentioned, I asked a question, asking the presenter to say more on that subject because it is an area that I’ve long been curious about but with which I am not particularly familiar.And then I woke up – presumably because my brain did not have the requisite information to fill in what the speaker would say about Orphism.And so here’s another reason to become broadly educated – if you don’t, it may interfere with you getting the sleep you need.If any readers of this blog are well-versed in the Orphic tradition and would like to share their knowledge, please do so!

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  • Beloved Spear

    The interwebs are abuzz with chatter these last few days over the latest teaser-trailer for the Christmas-release-blockbuster of the next installment of the Star Wars saga. Fanboys and fangirls are all squealing...or is that "squeeing"...over what looks like it might be an actually watchable movie.  A palate-cleanser, I suppose, after the agonizing prequels.It's a professional grade reboot, clearly, from a practiced and proven rebooter.  There's evidence of character development and human-scale interpersonal narrative.  There's the evocative use of prior musical and visual themes.  There's the now-requisite "handoff" from the prior generation, with first-gen actors reprising iconic characters to give the imprimatur of canon.  Think Shatner for the Star Trek Next Gen films, or Nimoy in the first JJ Abrams Star Trek. When Harrison Ford announces that "we're home," that's exactly the feel that's meant to be teased.  We have finally made it to that place we...

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  • In the afterlife reality, Nadia is married to Sayid’s brother Omar. His brother is in trouble, having borrowed money from someone. He asks Sayid to help convince the man who says he owes interest for as long as he has the business he started. Sayid says he is sorry, he isn’t the man he was when he was an interrogator for the Republican Guard. But then Omar is put in hospital, and Sayid wants to act but Nadia begs him not to. Later, Nadia asks why he pushed her towards his brother. Sayid says that the past twelve years he has been trying to wash his hands of the horrible things he has done, and he cannot be with her because he does not deserve her. The next day, another Iraqi stops Sayid in the street and takes him to a restaurant’s kitchen. Keamy is making eggs. He says that he is the man who lent Omar money. They talk, then Sayid makes a move and shoots them all. He then hears banging from a fridge and rescues Jin from there.On the island, Sayid asks Dogen about the...

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  • Life With Jack

    Bless this tender bloom. Beauty emerging in the turmoil of spring. Delicate, intricate, miracle of life. Reflecting the presence of the Holy One. Bless this tender one, Grieving a mother who was loved. Losing a husband, burying a child. Holy One, send your presence, your comfort. Bless this tender world. May beauty show forth in unexpected places. New life in a refugee camp; kindness in the aftermath of terror. Let us reflect your presence, your comfort, your love. Holy one, we are yours.

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  • Allan R. Bevere


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  • Apollonius had spent years in study and was strikingly familiar with the major philosophers and schools of thought in the second century Roman empire. He had converted to Christianity because of the witness and testimonies of the early Church members but had continued to study the beliefs and convictions of those he had left behind and hoped to bring to faith with himself. He was a Roman senator and knew that his power brought a modicum of protection with it. He knew that there was a law against being a Christian but he knew two other things, as well: 1) the Roman rulers would not simply betray him without cause, and 2) he was called to share the grace and love that he had freely received. Eventually, one of his slaves betrayed him as a Christian to a praetorian prefect by the name of Perennis. It's likely that Perennis and others knew but they were turning a blind eye to Apollonius' faith because they had no desire to enforce the law upon their friend and respected colleague--...

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  • “We are each created in the image of God. It is no badge of honor to be heterosexual and it is no sin to be homosexual, just as it is no honor to be White and no sin to be Black. It is simply who we are.”The quote from Rabbi Paul Menitoff comes from his opinion piece in Reform Judaism, “Boycott the Boy Scouts.” I thought it important to share it, since it illustrates a very different kind of reasoning based on the Bible than many Americans are familiar with if their contact with the Bible has been through conservative Christianity. In Reform Judaism, the concept of b’tzelem elohim – being made in the image of God – is a key moral foundation, one which is derived from the Bible but which trumps what individual passages may happen to say, much as the Golden Rule trumped passages about slavery for the abolitionists who opposed conservative Christians who defended slavery based on a variety of individual passages.See also Mark Silk’s article arguing...

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  • Ada
    Available Light

    My granddaughter was born last week. She is named Ada after her Great Great Grandmother and Catherine after her Aunt. Perhaps names are prophetic and she will share with these two strong women a portion of their resilience and creativity and presence. There are details I know some of you will want -birth weight, length etc - but this sort of information passes through my cognitive system without leaving any passing mark. I can tell you instead of the intricate delicacy and length of her fingers and the silky clarity of her skin; or the perfect symmetry of her tiny sleeping mouth; or how small she is in her blanket and how light to hold.She dominated my week. Nick, Charms and Naomi came over from Sydney and Clemency drove her ancient Honda up to see them all. My week was more than usually full, as I made up for the time spent on retreat, and, as well, I made two return trips to Christchurch to see my pregnant daughter and then my tired daughter and my latest mokopuna. Also, my computer...

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  • A friend recently asked me how I felt about leaving Oklahoma soon.  This is what I said: “I am breathless with gratitude.” I think it surprised her that I didn’t give a simple: “I’m happy” or “I’m sad” about it answer. I think she even would have been satisfied with a “Change is hard” statement from me or something like “I’m excited about the future.” But I said none of these things. Not even close to “I’m jumping for joy. Thank God I’m getting out of here” (as I would have said 2 years ago). No simply: “I am breathless with gratitude.” For when the day comes that our packed car pulls heads back East for new adventures, I won’t be leaving this state wiping the dust off my feet as I once thought I would. I won’t be leaving with a face of disgust. Nor, will I be leaving with all the pain of these 3 years (and it’s been a lot!) at the forefront of my...

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  • Back in 2012, I blogged an epic set of churchgeekery in the weeks leading up to General Convention of the Episcopal Church. First there was “Blogging Blue” in which I blogged through the so-called Blue Book (which was really salmon, a fact which 7WD revealed exclusively). Then I wrote “Resolutely Reading” in which I blogged through many of the additional resolutions not in the Blue Book. Mostly I did it for my own purposes, because I wanted to think through all the resolutions before I got to the conventional itself, at which there simply isn’t time to do careful readings. A surprising (to me) number of people mentioned that these posts were helpful. So as we head toward General Convention this year, it’s time to repeat the challenge. I’ll blog my way through the so-called Blue Book again, offering my sense of how I’ll vote and some thoughts about why. By the way, this time, the so-called Blue Book is “so called” because it...

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  • Getting There

    Readings Acts 3.12–19 Luke 24.36b–48 In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. 1 Corinthians 5.19a The way the religious authorities in Jerusalem saw things, it must have been an unfolding disaster, an … Continue reading →

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  • Lord Jesus Christ,for your name's sake you lead us;in right paths you lead us, in paths of love,you lead us.To lead us,when put to the test,you yielded up your bodyand laid down your life for us.Help us yield up our bodies and lay down our livesfor one anotherin paths oflove. Lectionary Readings Ps. 92; 149; 23; 114Dan. 3:19-301 John 3:11-18Luke 4:1-13Selected Verses Ps. 23:3b[The LORD] leads me in right paths          for his name’s sake. Dan. 3:28Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him.  They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.1 John 3:16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. Luke 4:12Jesus answered [the devil], “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test...

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  • Beloved Spear

    I'm a sentinel of sorts, now, standing vigil over one of the last markers of a movement that flickered and died.After a brief conversation, Presbymergent shut down its Facebook presence many moons ago.  As the remnant of folks left as admins all wanted to keep the page up as an archive of sorts, I volunteered to serve that end.  For a page to exist, there has to be at least one admin, and so that's what I've become.I am the last Presbymergent on Facebook. Emergence was a thing, for a while, a decade ago.  It rose out of two simultaneous threads. In the old-line denominations, emergence was a reaction to the stultifying institutional inertia that can makes denominational ministry such an awkward, lumbering, graceless thing.  Be open to the new!  Don't crush everything under the weight of bureaucratic anxiety management processes and protocols!For those who'd been brought up in the corporate dynamics of the megachurch world, emergence was a reaction to the...

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  • Back in 2008, I started 7WD with what was then a fairly modern design. Well, it’s seven years later, which is an epoch in Internet time. So it’s time for a new look for 7WD. You are now looking at the freshly updated blog, complete with lemon-fresh scent (if your computer is enabled for this feature). This is all built using the “Hueman” theme on WordPress. Here’s what you might notice: Spiffy new look, with a clean design and fresh typefaces A responsive design intended to work well on desktops with large monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Cleaned up resources in the sidebars, including my Twitter stream, direct links to all posts by category, some blogs I read regularly, and other sundries. Once you click through to a post, you’ll see links to recent posts and comments on the right side. Easy access to my various social media channels A new page called “Tour” that lists some upcoming appearances by yours truly and links to audio/video/...

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  • I am a fool for your beauty — the way you stretch yourself out like the clear blue sky with nothing to hide, nothing to hold back; the way you are manifest in the earth with mountains for hips a smile in blues & yellows the relaxed river your strength & gentleness You are too beautiful, my God, and you turn my head with the winks of stars the echoed longing of geese the rich red your dusty flesh; you spin me about in wonder until I am swept up in joy giddy to touch you and awed to call you handsome

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  • Rev. Jeff Hood

      “What man doesn’t wonder about what it would be like to have sex with a man?” While dining at Cracker Barrel late one night, I asked the question of a friend. Before I could even begin to muse about my own question, Don Fulton looked at me in my eyes and declared, “I’m gay.” In the revelation of the moment, we found a joint love of God that we had never experienced before. In the darkness of the night, we were both afraid. Anyone who was a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary knew the consequences of questioning the demanded sexual orthodoxy, but there was something emboldening about knowing that I was no longer alone.   While trying to make it, Don and I supported each other. Consistent questions and sheer determination were our only other allies. Life is both difficult and tragic when you hold such a secret that can destroy the life that you think you want. Though we heard Jesus knocking at the door of our closets, we...

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  • The Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Madison, Maine (about 40 miles north of Augusta) closed its doors at the end of last December. The building was then purchased and turned into event space. Last weekend, “Somerset Abbey” opened its doors for its first public event, a comedy show. The venue itself provided fertile material for the comedians on the show. Although I was not there, the local paper provided coverage. The title of the piece on the front page of the Local section in The Morning Sentinel was called, “Laughing Their Praises.” One of the warm-up comedians quipped, “I think this is the first time there’s been this much excitement in church in a while.” At some point, someone yelled out something that I might have yelled out if I had been there, “It’s not a church.” But, the comedian snapped back, “But it looks like a church. I don’t think anyone is driving by saying, ‘I think that’s a raised ranch.’” This is a big problem for a lot of us who remain faithful...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    from David Wilson at Slate:___If you worry a lot, fear not-- your anxiety just might be a sign of high intelligence. The idea has been around for a while: The adage that ignorance is bliss suggests the reverse, that knowledge involves anguish. Now it's starting to get some scientific validation.In a recent study, for instance, psychologist Alexander Penney and his colleagues surveyed more than 100 students at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, and asked them to report their levels of worry.The researchers found that students with more angst-- for instance, those who agreed with survey statements like "I am always worrying about something"-- scored higher on a verbal intelligence test.This interpretation of anxiety, though, contradicts other studies showing a negative link between intelligence and anxiety. In Coplan's study showing higher IQ in people with more severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, for instance, higher IQ correlated with lower worry in the control group...

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  • In an anthology edited by Dorothy C. Bass, Practicing Our Faith (1997), one of the "practices" (aka spiritual disciplines) included in her resources for deepening our intimacy with God while embodying our faith in everyday circumstances is something called "saying yes and saying no." "The practice of saying yes and saying no... retrieves the ancient wisdom that insisted that if we want to say yes to God and to life abundant, we must also say a related no to other things. This practice, which will be important if we are to persevere in living out any of our other (faith promises), is strengthened by the disciplines of prayer, examination of conscience and small faith-sharing groups."In a word, Bass reminds us that without honest discernment of how we will spend our time, energy and resources, we will likely be consumed by commitments that cause us drift from one obligation to another; or else find ourselves so exhausted and resentful of our lives that we withdraw and hide from...

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  • A P.C.C. is a “Parochial Church Council” in Anglican churches. But the map works quite well for any denomination. Isn’t this a great variation on the London Underground map? Can you relate to it? The budget circle line that goes round and round. The intersection points of various subcommittees. The any other business tangents that a meeting can be diverted onto, and where they end up.This is easily recognizable as one of Dave Walker’s cartoons. It came to my attention via Anglican Church Memes on Facebook who got it in turn from Simon Rundell on Twitter.

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  • This spring I find my mind often returning to the Camino de Santiago. A year ago today I began my tenth day of walking: 140 miles down, 360 to go. But by then I had stopped counting. It was better – and less tiring – to be in the moment, to “cherish every step” as one pilgrim advised me early on. When I run long distance, or backpack up a steep mountain pass, I try to apply the mindfulness of Zen walking. Don’t think about some other time, in the past or the future, when you are in a more comfortable state of rest. And stop wondering how far you have left to go. Simply be here now. Concentrate your attention on the physical act of lifting your foot, swinging it forward, setting it down. Take note of your breath. It’s not about forgetting the pain so much as accepting your present state of being-in-motion, not wishing you were doing something less strenuous or challenging. When you walk ten to twenty miles day after day for over a month, this kind of attention becomes more automatic....

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