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faith

It makes me think of the joke about reality having a well-known liberal bias: one could also say that reality has a well-known theological bias. I think it’s observably the case that our understanding of the world is just not exhausted by talking about our daylight enlightened systems, our best intentions, our codes of law and science, the things that in the bright light of noon we want to be true about ourselves. There’s all the other stuff, too, and anyone who is paying attention keeps tripping over it. You get back onto theological ground no matter what your opinions are. Francis Spufford

More and more I’ve come to think that faith isn’t belief in enchantment. Faith is, rather, the act of enchantment. Faith is the practice of hallowing. Experimental Theology

But I don’t stop there. I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try — imperfectly, but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation. And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs -– from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato. President Obama

What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside down? What happened to the smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous? Robert Capon

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What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is crucifying the poor and the environment on the same cross? Hear the prayers of the people. Hear, oh God, the prayers of the people. What does it mean to be a Christian when we bail out our banking class with 400 billion dollars, yet allow those banks to kick Americans out of their homes? Homes that cost too much because of financial speculation on the housing market. Occupy Breakfast

What Jesus was about was starting a revolution. He called this revolution, ” the Kingdom of God.” This revolution isn’t centered on getting people to believe particular religious beliefs and engage in particular religious behaviors, though these may be important, true, and helpful. Nor is it centered on trying to fix the world by advocating the ” right ” national agendas, theough these may be noble, righteous and effective. No, the Kingdom of God that Jesus established in centered on one thing only: maninfesting the beauty of God’s character and thus revolting against everything that is inconsistent with this beauty. The Kingdom is centered on displaying a beauty that revolts. Greg Boyd

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When I look out across the field of American evangelicalism and see a world dominated by celebrity pastors, turn-or-burn dogmatism, religiopolitical campaigns, anti-intellectualism, super-deluxe-mega-churches, and a nonstop stream of Christian merchandise to buy, it leaves me profoundly unconvinced that this was at all what Jesus had in mind when he said “on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not overcome it.” The American Jesus

Thomas Jefferson had dreamed of a rationalist republic; what he got instead was a Methodist millennium. In many ways, the idea of America as a Christian nation, as put forward by its current proponents, was an invention not of the founding era but of the 19th century. In other words, the phrase Christian nation as used in Fea’s title itself has a history, one that underwent significant changes and transformations between the era of Franklin and the era of Falwell. Faith of the founders

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At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak his name written in us … like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely… . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. Thomas Merton

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Our moral imagination is the essential tool for opening us up to the depths and breadths of time to which we belong. Extend it both backwards and forwards. Open your mind’s eye to the immense journey of life on our planet by meditating on your hand. “See” its evolutionary development, one life-form to another from its origins as a fin in primordial seas. Behold in it also the countless generations of human hands whose tasks and skills shaped our world. Invite the future ones into your awareness. Feel the strength of your desire that they find clean air to breathe, water to drink, trees, topsoil. Try asking for their guidance in the work that is now to be done. And, for a practice I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I have, imagine a person of a century or two hence (perhaps related to you, perhaps not) who can see back through time, and sees you at this moment of your life. And then write yourself a letter from this future person. Joanna Macy

The economy of war requires of every soldier an implicit submission to his superior; and this submission is required of every gradation of rank to that above it. This system may be necessary to hostile operations, but I think it is unquestionably adverse to intellectual and moral excellence. The very nature of unconditional obedience implies the relinquishment of the use of the reasoning powers. Little more is required of the soldier than that he be obedient and brave. His obedience is that of an animal, which is moved by a goad or a bit, without judgment or volition of his own; and his bravery is that of a mastiff [dog], which fights whatever mastiff others put before him. - It is obvious that in such agency, the intellect and the understanding have little part. Now I think that this is important. He who, with whatever motive, resigns the direction of his conduct implicitly to another, surely cannot retain that erectness and independence of mind, that manly consciousness of mental freedom, which is one of the highest privileges of our nature. The rational being becomes reduced in the intellectual scale: an encroachment is made upon the integrity of its independence. God has given us, individually, capacities for the regulation of our individual conduct. To resign its direction, therefore, to the despotism of another, appears to be an unmanly and unjustifiable relinquishment of the privileges which He has granted to us. Referring simply to the conclusions of reason, I think those conclusions would be, that military obedience must be pernicious to the mind. And if we proceed from reasoning to facts, I believe that our conclusions will be confirmed. Is the military character distinguished by intellectual eminence? Is it not distinguished by intellectual inferiority? I speak of course of the exercise of intellect, and I believe that if we look around us, we shall find that no class of men, in a parallel rank in society, exercise it less, or less honorably to human nature, than the military profession. I do not, however, attribute the want of intellectual excellence solely to the implicit submissions of a military life. Nor do I say that this want is so much the fault of the soldier, and of the circumstances to which he is subjected. We attribute this evil, also, to its rightful parent. The resignation of our actions to the direction of a foreign will, is made so familiar to us by war, and is mingled with so many associations which reconcile it, that I am afraid lest the reader should not contemplate it with sufficient abstraction. - Let him remember that in nothing but in war do we submit to it. Jonathan Dymond

It’s depressing to see Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds in his field, trying to speak as an expert on things he sadly seems to know rather less about than many averagely intelligent Christians. Of course there are people who think of ‘heaven’ as a kind of pie-in-the-sky dream of an afterlife to make the thought of dying less awful. No doubt that’s a problem as old as the human race. But in the Bible ‘heaven’ isn’t ‘the place where people go when they die.’ In the Bible heaven is God’s space while earth (or, if you like, ‘the cosmos’ or ‘creation’) is our space. And the Bible makes it clear that the two overlap and interlock. For the ancient Jews, the place where this happened was the temple; for the Christians, the place where this happened was Jesus himself, and then, astonishingly, the persons of Christians because they, too, were ‘temples’ of God’s own spirit. N.T. Wright

They see the world around them swayed by the emotional propaganda of the moment. They have learned form tradition that youth is sentimental; and they conclude that the best thing they can do is to fortify the mind’s of young people against emotion. My own experience as a teacher tells an opposite tale. For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess excess of sensibility, there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. C.S. Lewis

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