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Biblical Literalism is the Disaster

Biblical Literalism is the Disaster

September came hard as massive hurricanes slammed into our nation’s Gulf coast. Like many, I found myself completely distracted and immersed in the round-the-clock news coverage of the damage. When it comes to bearing witness to destruction, we seem unable to look away. While the information does soothe our need to know and connect with important people and places in our lives, too much information can damage our emotional balance. We must turn and turn again to the present of…

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Good Pastors, Bad Congregations

Good Pastors, Bad Congregations

Parish ministry : It’s good I left when I did. I was shaped as a congregational leader in the 1960’s and 70’s: heady days of steady church membership, confident budgets, and familiar ethic traditions holding everyone together. Despite the daily pain of Viet Nam, race riots, assassinations, and a rising violent drug subculture, middle class Americans believed in the power of their institutions. It was this general optimism that brought the votes to ordain women in my Lutheran tradition in…

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Sunday Morning Church Rant

Sunday Morning Church Rant

I didn’t go to church today because I couldn’t face another stripped-down summer liturgy. Bleh.  Recycled sermons, vacationing preachers, substitute organists, empty pews, last moment lectors, absent acolytes, no choir, no coffee hour. The church on vacation isn’t pretty.  But that’s not our only problem. We have a problem of relevance. We are trying WAY too hard to find it. When church leaders chase the latest opinion polls, and change their main Sunday liturgies to meet the “market,” those who…

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Should I or Shouldn’t I ?

Should I or Shouldn’t I ?

In a couple of weeks I will be voted off the active clergy roster of the ELCA. This means that the Church that ordained me no longer will consider me a pastor. All this comes about not because of any Church mean-spirited-ness or personal failure on my part. I left the parish in 2004 to become a family therapist, and because I’m not involved in ministry as a pastor any more, I’m no longer “official” in the way Lutherans understand…

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Jesus Was Not a Marxist

Jesus Was Not a Marxist

This fall’s public demonstrations begun as “Occupy Wall Street” follow in the time-honored political traditions of modern cultures. Concord, Massachusetts; Selma, Alabama; Tiananmen Square, China; Cairo, Egypt: people have risen up in massive numbers across the world to seek change. Whether you have joined them, or even disagree with their perspectives, as a democracy we all value the power of citizens to peacefully organize to seek justice and change.             The energy of Occupy Wall Street-like gatherings is born in…

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The Church in Recession : What Now?

The Church in Recession : What Now?

My occasional column for the Savage Pacer was just published yesterday. I wrote about the financial free fall the mainline denominations are in with the current recession. If you want to read the full column, go here. Here’s my concluding paragraph: The storm that my denomination finds itself in will one day blow through, and a different way of being the church in the world will have to be found and lived. In every generation, it has never been the…

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