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As we emerge from our covid isolation into increasing social contact, we realize that during these months of spending too much time on social media and watching conflicting news reports, our stress and anxiety has inevitably damaged some of our relationships. Do we need to be generously forgiving and reconciling, or do we need to evaluate which rel…
 
The list of the suffering in this world could go on indefinitely, and this week has been no exception. From the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is being tried to the growing refugee crisis in Ethiopia, we find ourselves asking: how do we grieve the oppression and violence, while we also celebrate the moments of joy and justice that we encounter along…
 
Events of the past week have revealed the weakness of our nation’s lax gun laws, the dangerous escalation of anti-Asian prejudice, the insidious racism behind a wave of new voter suppression laws, and even the unworkable nature of attempts at legislating morality. The good news is that the problems that seem impossible to solve to our elected offic…
 
In most western nations, the penal system is designed to reform convicted criminals so that they can return to a productive life in society. In the USA, where we have two million people in prison and nine million on parole, a far greater percentage of our population than any other western democracy, prison terms are more likely to be used for a kin…
 
The question that echoes from the primeval pages of Genesis demands a new answer in this era of a global pandemic, "Am I my brother's (sister's) keeper?" We all know that the right answer is "yes" but fear sure can make us a lot more selfish than in our more relaxed moments. Some of us are afraid of either getting or spreading the virus, others are…
 
When injustice and oppression become normal in a society, it often requires persistent and even outrageous actions to unveil, resist, and ultimately transform it. Like Jesus turning over tables in the temple, we must continually braid our own whip of cords by learning and applying creative tactics that help us both unveil the evil of injustice and …
 
This year’s conservative Republican gathering, CPAC, included the surprising presence of a golden statue of Donald Trump. It is surprising that the gathering of largely Evangelical Christians did not immediately see the easily drawn analogy to the golden calf idol from Exodus. But, it is a fitting symbol of the idol the former president’s supporter…
 
This talk has been prepared for a group of progressive clergy in the United Kingdom who posed this question: What must be done to rebuild America after Trump. This message proposes 4 key responses: Massive campaign finance reform. A restoration of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine. A renewed commitment to education. An emphasis on vital but achievable go…
 
In the novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, two young lovers are thwarted in their desire to be together, only to be given a second chance at love when they are old. Still, though about half of us now live alone, that does not mean that we have to give up on hope that we, even in our later years, might not have, at long last, a real opportunity for …
 
It's now common for us to hear false accusations that social justice movements are just "ideological poison" and honest treatments of the more difficult aspects of US history are just "toxic propaganda." Activists and historians alike have come under increasing attacks, especially when it comes to racial justice, while so-called "patriotic educatio…
 
Though Gandhi and MLK are lauded as great social heroes in our day, during their lifetimes they were often put in jail and were regarded as enemies of the state. To be honest about some of the people currently regarded in the USA as being traitors or at least being guilty of espionage, we should wonder if they will one day be regarded as heroic whi…
 
The laudable stated goal of the new Biden administration to bring unity to the red and the blue factions of America is obviously necessary, but it is a steep hill to climb. For the most part, the Jan. 6 insurrection was the product of a constant diet of lies and propaganda. Certainly, the first step of reuniting the United States calls for a renewe…
 
A Haitian proverb declares, "No one listens to the cry of the poor or the sound of a wooden bell." That seems like a sad resignation to the way that things are but what we realize about Martin Luther King, Jr. is that his peculiar genius was to amplify the voices of the poor, to make the injustice of racism visible, on the evening news, to people w…
 
America is horrified and embarrassed but not many of us are shocked. The failed insurrection that took place on Wednesday, January 6th, was planned, orchestrated, inspired, and incited by our president who recently lost re-election and who has been desperate to hold onto power even if he had to destroy democracy to do so. We have witnessed the embo…
 
Changes are coming that give us reason for substantial hope. We will have a change in administrations in early 2021 and an amelioration of the pandemic later in the year followed by a huge economic recovery. But looking past this new year, very soon, electric cars will replace gas burning cars and sustainable energy will end carbon pollution from g…
 
Mary’s song, the Magnificat, has been a favorite text from the Christian tradition for millennia. The exhilaration of hope and the certainty that “the arc of the moral universe” really does “bend toward justice" continue to inspire both faith and activism, especially in the face of all the terrible, and terribly unnecessary, suffering that fills ou…
 
In her brilliant new book, Caste, Isabel Wilkerson speaks of racism in America as a caste system that is like the studs that form the frame of our house. We rarely see them or think of them, but they are there, holding the whole house up and if termites or mold get to them, the house will collapse. Racism establishes the social order so that even a…
 
I have two points to make today. The first is very practical and the second is deeply philosophical. The first is that by paying attention to science, especially in forest management, we can increase the profitability of our natural resources while sustaining our old growth forests which is good both for people in the construction business as well …
 
The late Marcus Borg is credited with describing the historical Jesus as being the teacher of radical compassion. In this time when it appears, as Paul Krugman has recently published, our culture of selfishness is killing us, it is vital that we take up that mission of teaching radical compassion. We are all connected and our innate instincts valid…
 
Economists are predicting that one in six restaurants will be permanently closed as a result of the pandemic. Sadly, when progressive congregations emerge from our current sabbatical or at least our retreat to online only services, the casualty rate may be much higher than what has hit the restaurant business. Still, the progressive church was alre…
 
How did wearing a mask to avoid spreading the Covid virus become a politically partisan issue? It has become apparent that one of the most difficult tasks ahead of the USA is learning again how to disagree without dividing the nation. For many of us, this isn't about politics, it is about ethics and being honest about both economics and science. It…
 
At the end of World War I, there was a hope that this had been the “war to end all wars.” Armistice Day was established to celebrate the agreements that they hoped would lead to an eternity of peace on the planet earth. It was only 30 years before the world was plunged into another global conflict that claimed even more lives. As horrific as wars a…
 
Despite Tuesday’s election results, Donald Trump received widespread support across the USA, signaling a tolerance for, and, in many cases, a celebration of, Trump’s performative fascism and a growing normalization of White nationalism. Understanding that the popularity of Trump is a symptom of these deeper problems in our society, we realize that …
 
President Kennedy’s speech he was set to deliver on the very day when he was tragically assassinated included this plea to the nation, “let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation’s future is at stake.” Every presidential election is important, but it is not an exaggeration to say that both g…
 
The directors of the FBI and DHS have warned Congress that white supremacist, anarchist, and other armed militias pose a significant threat to American security. Our nation, unlike our peers in western democracies, has been held hostage to the gun industry which appears to be motivated by profits to the exclusion of concern about human life. It is …
 
Power begets power and institutions that are rife with power will increasingly resist change, reform, or moral responsibility. An excellent example of this is the perception that protesting police killings and violence as being inherently “anti-police” just as protesting the Catholic Church’s history of hiding pedophilia as well as the rape and for…
 
We're not dead yet, but we need your help. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to sell our church building, but we are still online and plan to return to an in-person presence once it is safe to do so. Making that happen requires your help. Please consider donating by visiting http://spfccc.org or mailing a check to: Community Christian Church PO B…
 
A civilization’s shared myths account for why things are the way they are. They can bolster loyalty to a religion or a nation, and they can excuse class and race privilege. Ancient Hebrew scriptures claim that God gave them a land where other nations were already living just as America’s “manifest destiny” excused genocide and pathological land the…
 
Faith is typically based on “belief” and science is based on objective research and analysis. In this address, written for the Malvern (United Kingdom) Science and Faith conference, Dr. Ray discusses the concept of “evidence based faith,” attempting to rank our beliefs based on Bayes’ Theorem of probability analysis. This invites communities of fai…
 
The late Congressman John Lewis wrote what could be his own eulogy in the essay he wrote to be published posthumously in the New York Times. He called on “ordinary people” to be willing to get into “good trouble.” Of course, the sins of racism, oppression, and enslavement were not creations of black culture. These were white inventions and as such,…
 
Politics and profit have tremendous influence over which foods we eat, especially the poor because almost all government agricultural subsidies go to beef, dairy, and grain production and less than 1% supports growing green vegetables and fruits. The biblical narrative about the birthday party given for Herod concludes with the head of John the Bap…
 
While protests verge on becoming riots in our city streets in response to multiple murders of unarmed black men at the hands of our cities' police, we must focus on how to pull racism out of our culture by the roots. Many of us find the common placement of Confederate monuments and the names of leading Confederates and KKK members on universities a…
 
Labor Day is an American substitute for the International Workers Day, celebrated on May 1. Americans of the early 20th century associated organize labor with communism and sought to suppress union organizing while applauding the contributions of laborers to our country. Of course, what labor really deserves is a living wage, safe working condition…
 
Fear provokes prejudice and makes people willing to sacrifice their rights in favor of an authoritarian government that promises protection from the “others.” But shouldn’t faith offer some cure for fear? Can’t we see other races and nationalities as sisters and brothers rather than a threat? We are on the verge of an election and, hopefully, subst…
 
170 Danish scholars from 5 universities came together to consider how the world needs to change post covid-19. They make five crucial suggestions: 1) Move away from ‘development’ focused on aggregate GDP growth. 2) Develop an economic framework focused on redistribution. 3) Develop a form of agriculture that is regenerative. 4) Reduce consumption a…
 
Self-care has become a buzz phrase in recent years, and we’re (necessarily) hearing about it even more during this pandemic. In a healthy, functioning society, self and community care is integrated into its habits, relationships, organizations, and culture. Special actions would not be required except in times like these, and preparations to meet s…
 
Anthropologist, Margaret Mead, said that the first sign of human civilization was the discovery of a 15,000 year old skeleton of a man who had a broken femur. She speculated that such an injury could only mean that others had cared for this man for several weeks while the broken bone mended, something that was not seen among our ancestors prior to …
 
We really are not in the same boat but we surely are in the same storm. The pandemic is very inconvenient for the people who get to keep their jobs, income, health insurance, and home. But those who are now unemployed, uninsured, evicted or facing foreclosure are in another kind of boat and it is in danger of sinking. Refusing to wear a mask, resis…
 
Opioid overdoses increased by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May making addiction and overdose deaths a silent pandemic within the viral pandemic. To respond to this crisis, today’s message is a panel presentation from our pastor, a physician who is an addiction specialist, and a psychologist who specializes in suicide prevention and addict…
 
When we begin to give up the formal, creedal faith of our youth, accepting that no religion is entirely true and no sacred text was actually written by God, many people will abandon the journey of faith entirely. But for those of us who find value in a spiritual life, we are inclined to turn away from the false certainty of formal religion and turn…
 
The anti-mask vs pro-mask divide in this stage of the global pandemic becomes an interesting litmus test for either an empathetic world view or a kind of apologetic for being something of a sociopath. Given the irresponsible leadership of Trump in America, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Boris Johnson in the UK, we can see how many people are willing to f…
 
Far too often, patriotism is expressed as enthusiasm for wars as if the battlefield was the only way to become a hero or to find virtue when, in almost every case, the opposite is true. As Jimmy Carter recently observed, no nation on earth has ever been as engaged in warfare as the USA and it has cost us the ability to protect our environment, buil…
 
Our wisdom lesson offers us a view of the how things could be, through illustrations and words. It’s the kind of world that everyone could enjoy living in, because it would be organized around compassion, equality, and justice. But that world has mainly lived in human imagination, though not because it is impossible. Instead, we have inherited a se…
 
Covid-19 will also have a casualty count among congregations. Which churches will survive into the 21st century and, frankly, which ones really shouldn’t? If loneliness is the number one form of suffering in the western world, surely the connections made in a faith community should be a major solution to that isolation. But, perhaps more importantl…
 
While we are currently focused on racism as it appears to us in policing and in the pandemic, we know that the roots of racism are centuries old and expressed in every dimension of our culture. Today we are especially focusing on race and healthcare outcomes. We welcome sociology professor, Kyler Sherman-Wilkins to our pulpit to speak to this speci…
 
Many progressive people, maybe even especially progressive clergy, are often so afraid of criticism that they keep their most passionate beliefs to themselves. This is especially true for those of us who live in deeply conservative areas dominated by traditional forms of religion. However, since most of us did not have the luxury of being born into…
 
“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words were echoed this week by George Floyd as his life slipped away. The challenge for us is not to become inured by repetition. This time there was an arrest but immediately the coroner started the cover up saying that Floyd just happened to die from other causes while Derek Chauvin was kneeling on his neck. …
 
Every lie incurs a debt to the truth that must eventually be paid. This was initially said of Russian lies about the Chernobyl disaster but it certain applies to lies told about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the cover up in Catholic and Protestant churches about pedophilia, Boeing’s cover up of the failures of the 737 Max. We will see how ma…
 
Logic and faith should be partners! A healthy spirituality does not deny reality but rather interrogates and interprets reality. We are not seeking to escape this world to be transported into an imaginary “other” world but rather to logically, ethically, lovingly transform the only world we know into a better, more compassionate world. For faith co…
 
We are taking a wide angle view of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, from being relegated to carrying water and fire wood in the third world where female genital mutilation and sex trafficking are still common to the USA where, sadly sex trafficking is also common, but there is also religious oppression, a glass ceiling, and a sorely…
 
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