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PantaRhea last won the day on August 18 2009

PantaRhea had the most liked content!

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About PantaRhea

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    Regular Member
  • Birthday 03/08/1951

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  • Location
    North Port, FL
  • Interests
    Process/Relational Theology, Deep Ecology, Saving the World.
  1. Seems to me you've described the indescribable - Spirit, which is described metaphorically somewhere as 'the Body of Christ'.
  2. Yes! I love it. I understand what the purpose wouldn't be - not to be "overtly religious", etc., but what would the purpose be? Upholding progressive Christian values? Is a sharing of values enough? Is our neighbor, whom we are supposed to love as we love ourselves, always a sharer of our values? If not, do we exclude him/her? Is it possible to learn how to love someone who doesn't share our values? What you've described is the simple sharing of life. Isn't that inclusive enough? To simply enjoy and love one another? OK, suppose this lay-led family ministry becomes really popular. How many people can fit in a house? What's the next step if it becomes a large gathering? Buy or rent a building? Will there be a need eventually to be clergy-led rather than lay-led? After all, the clergy person can make sure those progressive values are taught to everyone and thereby insure a unity of purpose, right? Next thing you know, someone is breaking away from the gathering and starting a lay-led family ministry with others who share their values. Seems to me that this is a pattern that gets repeated too often. If your ministry begins to grow numerically and if the growth is handled by multiplying the gathering locations in homes, and if my ministry also grows and multiplies, perhaps the boundary between our neighborhoods would eventually disappear. Wouldn't that be great??
  3. I'm not sure I understand - "I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to church." What is a "good Christian"? Are we talking about someone who doesn't drink, smoke, or chew - or associate with those who do? I'm sure it has been addressed in a topic somewhere before, but what do we think the purpose of "church" is, anyway? This question was asked last week in a discussion group at a UCC church my wife and I started attending. The answer that everyone seemed to be satisfied with, was, church is where we learn about God. I came close to vomiting. (Isn't it mentioned somewhere that we can always be learning but never come to knowledge?) The pastor candidly mentioned that it seemed that the purpose of that particular church was to hold Sunday morning services. It does seem that the majority of revenue and most of the planning is toward that purpose. So, if the Sunday morning service doesn't happen, church disappears. Good!! Get rid of it. It's obstructing my view of the church, anyway. When I mentioned that the 'church' seems to consist of actors and spectators each performing their role on Sunday morning, it was mentioned by someone else that what happens on Sunday morning supports a lot of things that go on "outside" church. I couldn't help it - I raised the possibility that what they thought as being "outside" church, was really church, and what happened "inside" church, was really outside church. Confusion abounded. OK, yes, I'm a trouble maker. I like Marcus Borg's idea of 'church' being a sacrament: a finite means of mediating the sacred. Through the visible we see the invisible, or, possibly, in the language of Process Theology, through the actual we become open or aware of the possible. The actual is the Many. The possible is the One. The Many are the diverse experiences we bring to the table (it's the Lord's Table, isn't it?). Each experience is a piece of life. The process is that the Many become One. When we come together, we share a common life. That's the way the early Christians conceived of the Lord's table. To eat together was to share life together. The "life is in the blood" and so the cup became a symbol of sharing the life of Christ - or a life "in Christ". Through the sharing of the bread, the invisible Body of Christ was "built up" or became visible, actual, experienced. In the early church, the "preaching" was done in the marketplace. What a waste of the precious and limited time we have to be together to have to sit and listen to a preacher. The purpose of gathering was to become One - become community - to share life "in Christ". The church then extends the invitation to those who are deluded by the false perception that they are outside of God, who are alienated and without hope, to sit at the table, taste, and see that the Lord is good. So, yes I can sit in a pew and meditate and feel God's presence. I can also do that at home. So, if that's what it's all about, then it makes sense that "I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to Church." But, maybe the purpose of existing shouldn't be trivialized by the mere effort to "be a good christian" (whatever that means).
  4. Well, if we get to vote, put me down for the reforms suggested in posts #12 and #22. I would also add, since we are in the mood for reform, that we take care of some unfinished business from the last Protestant Reformation movement, and get rid of the clergy/laity system.
  5. Thanks, Joseph. I did correspond with Fred Plumer and his comments and advice were very useful. I'm still digesting some of it. One of the books that influenced my early thinking was, The Secular City by Harvey Cox. One of the big political issues back then was ridding the public schools of an imperialistic Christianity - a secularization of public institutions. Many saw it then, as many see it today, as an attempt to separate "God" from our nation. It seems like such a silly thing, to think that in reaction to the process of secularization, some think that "God" needs to be defended. Anyway, Cox's contention was that those who were resisting secularization were actually trying to resist the movement of God's Spirit. In other words, they were not on God's side, but on the side of the devil. I was thinking about Harvey's book this morning because it dawned on me, that what I was trying to do - that what I feel "led" to do, is to found a secular "church". Fred mentioned, in his message to me, that there is a "movement" of small groups that meet in homes with a common interest. I think, if I understood Fred's message correctly, he felt that my intentions are different than the intentions of groups which meet specifically for "spiritual development and practices". I'm not so sure though. What is the difference between "spiritual development and practices" and learning how to be a good neighbor, and to develop closer and healthier relationships? I've been involved in "cell groups" which are programs within some churches. I've been involved in House Church. What I want to do doesn't seem to quite fit with either of those two efforts to form community. As I was thinking about The Secular City, I did a Google search and found this article by Harvey Cox. I am especially drawn to this idea I discovered in the article: Any comments?
  6. Good. We are in agreement then. Neither do I. (Have you read, God's Power, by Anna Case-Winters?)
  7. Maybe the better question is: Do I believe that Jesus used power operating in the mode of domination and control in sharing his vision of the Kingdom of God?
  8. Ahhh, yes. I see what the problem is now. I don't think anyone wants to debate here. Debate involves an attempt to dominate. Generally it's thing we males do in order to reveal our level of testosterone. I have no desire to be dominated, or to dominate, or compete in the marketplace of ideas.
  9. Thanks Joseph. I'm hoping that my "vision" is not simply a utopian dream. Let me fill out a little bit more of my vision: My idea of organization at this time is basically taken from nature – the rhizome. Central to this kind of structure, as it relates to my ‘vision’, is the small group. So, I might say that I want to plant small neighborhood groups which will grow like weeds. Nature doesn’t necessarily have a central planning committee, nor do I believe that there is a designer. Nature organizes itself. In systems theory, I believe this is called ‘autopoiesis’. The early church (before it became institutionalized) was also an attempt to create a world community. In the first two centuries it grew exponentially. I think there are some lessons to be gained from the attempt and some mistakes to be avoided. The early church, contrary to what many believe, was very pluralistic. I think a world community can be formed that values diversity and creativity. That is not true of most “religious” organizations (which still make the claim that their purpose is to create community) today (with the possible exception of the Unitarian Universalists). Also, I think having a common ethic based on respect and trust is critical. The mistake of the Christian church, I believe, is that it began to adopt an ethic of obedience – especially after it became the state religion. An ethic of obedience required submission to dogma. The “prophets” and their prophetic fires were quenched under the control of the priests. Using “prophets and priests” metaphorically, the prophets were agents of transformation, creativity, flux, and were connected to the future. The priests were agents of stability, order, security, and were connected to the past. The domination of the priests over the prophets created the hierarchical structure that we see in almost all religious organizations today. Problem: Because the symbols 'God' and 'church' carry so much baggage, I have no desire for, nor do I see a reason to use them. Nevertheless, I do want to be connected to other organizations that exist for the purpose of creating community. The small group gatherings in homes need to be connected to something larger. I'm not sure why this organic structure cannot be loosely connected with any and every organization which will be open to it. I think the connection would be symbiotic.
  10. I guess what I'm looking for, in this topic, is some constructive criticism, creative ideas, support, discussion on the nature of the church, and some clarification about whether or how these efforts might be connected to the Progressive Church movement - and whether these efforts can be considered as part of the Emerging Church.
  11. The following is copied and pasted from my blog: First Gathering I was going to title this post, "The Beginning", but then I remembered that the beginning began with an invitation. Last night 12 of our neighbors (including two children) met with my wife and I in our family room. We had included with the invitation this Agenda: • Introduction of Neighbors. • Introduction of purpose: to create a neighborhood of neighbors, an intentional community. ○ Discuss importance of purpose. • Introduction of primary intention: learn how to be a neighbor. • Sharing of visions: What would a really good neighborhood be like? ○ Search for similarities in visions. • Snacks & further discussion. We followed this agenda fairly closely. We gave a three-ring notebook to each family containing the original invitation, A page containing the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, A page stating our purpose: We want to learn how to be good neighbors, to develop closer and healthier relationships with our neighbors. We believe that by doing this it will change ourselves, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our nation, and the world. We believe this is not only valuable, but critically necessary. Our present way of living is simply not sustainable. Evidence from many sources point to the probable end of civilization unless a fundamental change occurs in the way we relate to other human beings and with our environment. Ultimately (and this may sound a little crazy), we want to save the world. A page containing our intention: We intend to achieve our purpose of learning how to be better neighbors by creating intentional communities through small group gatherings of neighbors beginning in our home and then reproducing, spreading, and connecting these gatherings of neighbors throughout the world. A page about the importance of these neighborhood gatherings: Below is a partial list of possible values which may be realized as we become good neighbors. We need to make and keep a distinction between value and purpose. For instance, a possible and probable result of these gatherings may be the development of a safer neighborhood. However developing a safer neighborhood is not our purpose. If it becomes our purpose, most of the other values on this list will not be realized. We need gatherings such that every neighbor will find value in them and want to participate, but not everyone will share the same values. And this article. The response was excellent - far better than I was hoping for. Neighbors seemed to buy into our vision and caught some of our passion. Especially exciting was the participation of the children.
  12. I hear ya, Jesus! "My sheep hear my voice..."
  13. I'm not sure I "embrace" any of the elements of Christianity - it's more like I hold some in an open hand. Is it possible to have faith without certainty?
  14. Yes, dear. I hereby submit to your self-perception of the scope of your knowledge as revealed in your final word on the subject.
  15. I saw in your statement, an excellent example of reductionism. Maybe I was mistaken. Let's both stop, eh?
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