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robertmaynord last won the day on July 22 2011

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About robertmaynord

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  1. robertmaynord

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    It's a great improvement, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for all your hard work!
  2. Humm... three levels of possible structure: 1) The mainline liberal churches - mentioned by Neon Genesis. 2) Progressive Christianity - in some organized form. 3) "Way of life" - mentioned by Joseph. a) For several months, I was attending a structured "mainline liberal" church that had a great liturgy, classical music, and art - all important to me. But, I must confess, I couldn't handle the creeds, and with a couple of exceptions the people were friendly, but somewhat impersonal. Last week, I went to a more Progressive Church, and within a short period of time had extended conversations with many friendly people. No creeds, more social justice activity, good quality contemporary music. c) Community is very important to me. But I also feel that Christianity must sometimes be practiced in the desert, alone with God. Ha! All this is proof of the schizophrenogenic nature of my struggle ;-)
  3. Great observations, Bill. One key element: "we need *both* the personal transformation that evangelicals have always called for, coupled with the social change that the gospel of Jesus (and the liberals) have called for." Both of these areas are absent from so many churches. Even the social justice stuff done by the liberals often consists of guest presentations and donations to external food pantries. It is rare to find a congregation where the people sitting in the pews are sleeping overnight at the shelter for homeless people, at least in my experience. The motto for the Wild Goose Festival is: "Art, Spirituality, Music, Social Justice" (I may have the order wrong). That list sure makes sense to me. It is interesting that Spong suggests that the Emerging Church will move beyond "liberal solutions that focus the church on social action, self-help counseling, and efforts at spiritual direction" -- he says these things are "dead as is fundamentalist hysteria". First time I heard anyone take this position, but it is intriguing. I can affirm your observation about "Emerging Catholics, Emerging Lutherans, Emerging Methodists", etc. The same is true of the prominent figures. Brian Mclaren is an Evangelical, Richard Rohr is Catholic, Borg is Episcopalian, etc. Another important thing about the EC movement is the European background. The US groups benefit from 50 years of struggle in Europe. Many of the Wild Goose people were regular attendees at the festivals in England. The Europeans seem to have fresh ideas in abundance, perhaps due in part to the extreme loss of faith in traditional church organizations there. All interesting and exciting stuff...
  4. I just finished the book, "A New Christianity for a New World", and really enjoyed it. Spong has a way of writing that makes his theology very appealing - personal experience stories and such. For me, the best chapter was actually the last chapter, where he tells of his experience with a seminary student named Katie Ford who was working toward her degree while fearing her ideas would never be accepted by her denomination. True'nuf.... Good quote: "The resulting ecclesia will be based on the experience of people, not on the desires of the hierarchy."
  5. Thanks! I will also play around with the email notifications... Robert
  6. Yes, I tried this yesterday, and tried it again just now. The result is actually worse. What it does is drops everything I have clicked on, even within the past 5 minutes. This makes sense from a computer standpoint, but I like to survey new material and then go back later and make comments. If there are, say, 5 new postings, I like to think about them and comment throughout the day. If the links are not there, I have to either remember the postings or make a paper note about them. Thanks for your efforts... Robert
  7. Hello, I have been going to the View New Content page each day to find if there are new postings listed. However, it seems that sometimes the list has a rather severe cut-off time, usually within a day and sometimes within hours. If there are more than one new posting, I might read and come back later in the day, only to find the other new unread postings are no longer listed. Is there a way to change my profile settings so that the cut-off is 2-3 days? That way I can be sure I am seeing all of the new postings.
  8. "Frozen Chosen" HAAAAA! I must remember that one! @DUTCH, in answer to your question regarding women in the Missouri Synod, the answer is no way. The Missouri Synod is shockingly conservative (forgive my expletive). For example, not only do they practice closed communion, but in some LCMS churches you are not allowed to take communion unless you have previously gone to confession. Some other doctrines that have been big sources of tension in the past: * It once was considered a sin to purchase life insurance. * Lutheran musicians could not play the organ or other musical instruments in non-Lutheran weddings or funerals and some were even excommunicated for doing so. * Lutherans (like Baptists) were not allowed to dance and were often chastised and even excommunicated for doing so. * Lutheran pastors and people were not allowed to pray with anyone, anytime, anywhere, outside their own church. * Women were not allowed to sit in church together with the men. @BILL, your comment "the Emerging movement has supplemented the side of me that is "mystical", that longs for an experience of God and the presence of others that comes from more than just historical-critical Bible study" is right on the button. I have a theory that there are two practices that are most threatening to mainstream Christianity: 1) Spirituality, and 2) Social Justice. Those are the two areas that require people to change, and change is threatening. It's the Frozen Chosen thing again! @MIKE, you note that "My interest in Eastern thought and Buddhism were instigated by looking for new territory that I did not see Christianity touching." Indeed! I once put together a video documentary on Buddhist - Christian dialogue, based on discussions at UC Berkeley. Why in the world would we not want to learn the insights of this wonderful tradition? Thich Nhat Hanh used to give presentations at the UCC church in Berkeley. That's the way it should be. Of course that was in the 80s.
  9. Dutch, your comment that "A renewed and enlivened understanding of the Bible would not be new to many mainstream seminary graduates of the 60s, 70s 80s, etc." is really interesting. When I first came across the Emerging Church material, my reaction was the same. Likewise, with Evolutionary Theology. When I went to seminary in the late 80s, Process Theology was becoming popular, and I loved it! However, I went to two seminaries, both mainstream. The first wouldn't touch Process Theology then or now. The second was very open and liberal. So what happened? It seems that in the 90s we began a conservative sweep across society. Think of what happened in politics. We are now seeing the "fruits" of the movement to the far right during this time. Likewise, in the churches we moved from Vatican II back to Pius X. Evangelicalism became political, and their theology moved from saving souls to saving society from the liberals. Even in the mainline churches the tension is alive. Just yesterday, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod announced they would no longer cooperate with the ELCA on a range of programs including those providing services to the homeless. Why? Because the ELCA is too accepting of gay people. The Methodist battle is raging - same issue. I wonder if the whole Emerging Church movement is coming from those people who identified with the "open" theologies of the 60s through 80s, but who never truly found their place in the churches. As one example, I have known many women who, after Vatican II, were sure it was only a matter of time before ordination was open to them. Not only did it not happen, their views are now fully rejected. Many of those women are now finding places in independent Benedictine communities and such. Likewise, if you look at the mainstream churches, the average member age is now above 60, and the membership is shrinking. Could it be that the more independent thinkers found no place for them on Sunday morning, and so they looked to New Age movements and Buddhism to meet their needs? I have many friends that fit this model. If any of this is an accurate evaluation of what has happened in the past 20-30 years, then indeed the Emerging Church may have enormous potential.
  10. Today, Odyssey Networks posted another video about the Wild Goose Festival. I put a link to it in the Links section of tcpc. Here it is for your convenience-- http://www.odysseynetworks.org/. Scroll down and you will see five or so videos on the Wild Goose Festival. Really interesting. Everything I come across with this group seems to flip expectations upside down. For example, all 78 presenters at the conference worked for free. Supposedly, the musicians were all Christians, but none of them were part of the Christian music scene. One night all the presenters showed up in their tents, and had no topics prepared - the attendees ran the show, so to speak. Anyway, has anyone here been involved? Is this the long awaited reformation for our time? By the way, the Wild Goose is the symbol of the Holy Spirit in Celtic Christianity....
  11. Wild Goose Video Is anyone involved in this? As the site notes: "Adherents say the Emerging Church is anti-hierarchy, pro-social justice, and looks at biblical texts as being more fluid than in the past, all in response to generational and cultural changes. "
  12. Jenell, you raise some great points, especially given our Baptist backgrounds. I remember going to week-long revival meetings where we heard sermons on the evils of dancing, playing cards, and listening to rock and roll. The devil was outside waiting for us. HA! A few thoughts... 1) Perhaps it is possible to differentiate between a "way of living" and a 'lifestyle". It seems to me a lifestyle is more superficial, perhaps the result of the decision about a "way of living". Choosing not to play cards, or live in the woods, could be viewed as a second level "lifestyle" choice. But choosing "to honor and respect and love others" seems to me more of a "way of living". 2) In any case, as you correctly note, "the rub seems to come in from just who decides what that 'Way of Living' consists of and involves". In too many of the examples we might think of, the decision has been made on the basis of one charismatic central figure. The ideas of this single figure are adopted by the community, and thereafter effected generations. In a sense, this is the history of Western civilization. As an example from a previous post, think of how many people have struggled with the idea of double predestination, how many churches believe it as doctrine, all coming from one charismatic figure - John Calvin. It seems to me that coercion is the problem, and that it can be reasonably argued that the life of Jesus singularly contradicts all forms of coercion. In the end coercion is simply violence in the guise of superior status. 3) Christianity is nothing, if it is not based on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who founded no religion, and taught no system of belief, but only a form of life or a way of living. Practice alone, which the early Christians called agape, is the basis of Christianity. In the end it is the beauty of Christ, and not the historical evidence or intellectual argument that allows us to decide on this way of life. Best wishes...
  13. The issue of "High Church" really resonates with me because I have a background in art and music. I find myself hanging out at multiple churches, because I feel I have multiple needs. The cathedral with the organ, choirs and stained glass windows is wonderful, but often the setting makes it hard to be very social. When I go to a less liturgically structured church, within the first hour I have ten friends! The worship environment really effects the way people behave. I think Mike is on the right track. Christianity has a wealth of creative, beautiful art, music, literature, and ritual. Now if we could just bridge that "heritage" with the "living network" idea.... Could it be that the ideal role of the skilled clergy would be to help people find their own "ministry" and support that ministry? Could it be that we might find many people in the community that demonstrate the "special spiritual gifts" George mentions? Could it be that if there were greater "equality of all the membership" Jenell mentions, there would be less "bad religion"?
  14. @Jenell, great that you mention the Baptists from your childhood! I too grew up in a Baptist church family. Of course, the Baptists are generally quite conservative theses days. But they do have some interesting gifts to offer. For example, their sense of community is very strong, in part because they like to hang out at church almost every day of the week, and all day on Sunday. As far as the pastor goes, there is a strong local emphasis as you note. A pastor can work for free, and support the family with a second job. But that is also the downside. When there is trouble, the pastor has little backup. One of the Baptist Pastors I knew as a child was tossed out of the church, and so he moved onto the Navajo Indian Reservation to start a new church. That is dedication!!! @Yvonne, it is interesting that Catholics exploring CPE do not have to show ordination. There is an extreme shortage of Catholic chaplains, for obvious reasons. They don't have enough clergy for the parishes, much less for the hospitals. So any lay Catholic can apply - and there are probably jobs available. @Bill, your story of Jesus made me think of "Open Source" software. How about "Open Source" Christianity? It seems to me that we need to support people who support the ministers (plural) of the church. But I must confess, I stumble when I hear (as I did recently) that a specific ordained minister has the power to forgive all my sins. I guess that is where part of my "struggle" with all this is: the issue of artificial power based on religion. For the Baptists, it can be a powerful preacher who generates guilt and fear - "now is the hour" to "get saved" as Billy Graham used to say. And for the more liturgical traditions, it is the power of the clergy to forgive sins, restrict access to communion, "marry 'em and bury 'em", etc. @Dutch, thank you for the outline of the ordination process. A week or so ago, I read of another Presbyterian ordination candidate who was having a difficult time. The problem was "double" predestination. He made it publicly known that he didn't buy it, particularly the part about God having great "pleasure" at sending the damned to hell. Needless to say, he is no longer on the ordination track. The more I think about this issue, the more interesting it gets. Training and skills are important and necessary (I have a several degrees, so I love the educational part). But can there be a Christianity that is a "Way of Living" rather than a "ticket to heaven", where people are trained and lifted up in a way that avoids Nietzsche's "Will to Power"?
  15. Thanks, Jenell, for your three interesting examples. A while back a friend of mine suggested that I look into the chaplaincy idea. I'm not sure it's what I want to do, but I thought I would explore the idea. A few comments in response to your examples... 1) The CPE fellow I visited mentioned that there were sometimes openings in the prison system, and that hiring was based on friendship with the warden. Minimal pay, if any. 2) Getting into the CPE training appears to be as difficult as getting a job. Here locally, at least, the waiting list is about a year long, an M.Div degree or equivalent is required, and 1 in 3 applicants are turned down. 3) I suspect that the law of supply and demand might be at work here. The denominations are shrinking at a rapid pace, and perhaps the overflow is moving toward chaplaincy. 4) The "career track", "professional clergy" aspect feels a bit peculiar. I am reminded of all the small town Presbyterian churches that supposedly have no clergy because they can't afford the minimum salary required by the denomination. 5) There is an Interfaith school in Berkeley that offers training and will handle such things as the ordination. But of course one would have to be in Berkeley to go to the school. These are just some random thoughts on my part. I very much appreciate your comments, as they help me process the idea.... Robert
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