• Jack on Prayer

    Essay by Rev. Gretta Vosper on August, 23 2018

    It was a delight to be at Chautauqua Institution in June to hear Bishop John Shelby Spong (Jack) explore the theses presented in his latest and last, last book Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today. Over the course of four days, he shared his perspectives on Christianity in a style that is exquisitely his own. Taking questions from dedicated “Women” and “Men” microphones, the integrity with which he approaches his work and those intent on wrestling with it was, as always, apparent. He would not let his audience off the hook. He would not allow them to be content with the easy, well-trod paths up the mountain. His cajoling impatience is his invitation to us to raise our own rallying cry, even if we don’t quite know what to rally around yet. He is content to shake the bejeezus out of our preconceptions and then get out of the way so that we might find our own path.

  • How are your Church investments doing?

    Essay by Eric Alexander on August, 9 2018

    Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future of the Church. It is an institution I love, yet it is also one which I harbor frustration for because of its resistance to adapt. Now I do realize that I’m referring to the Church here as an it, as a single entity, as opposed to what it actually is, a large and diverse community of denominations, pastors, board members, lay leaders, parishioners, and infrastructure. Similar to the stock market, which is made up of individual stocks, investors, and trading floors, we often refer to psycho-social institutions like this as a single entity, “i.e., the market.”

  • Ready, Set…RECEIVE!

    Essay by Lauren Van Ham on June, 7 2018

    The June sun was shining, but the whipping wind had us under hats and hoods, huddled close to hear the Naturalist’s instructions, “These flowers just poked out of snow last week.  Up here, Summer turns to Fall by mid-August.  Tundra takes hundreds of years to grow and one sloppily-placed hiking boot can destroy it all.” Then, he pointed across the Alpine carpet, to a collection of immense boulders and we began – adults, grandparents, and children (I was one of those) – hopping rock to rock.  A few paused, using their telephoto lenses to capture the blooms mere centimeters wide; the athletic made it into a game of how quickly they could “gazelle” from one rock to the next; and others moved with deference to the altitude, reaching for each inhale of thin air.  Other species – marmots, elk, birds – might have been looking on quizzically, but we did all we could to not touch our feet to the strong, fragile life below.

  • So what happens now?

    Essay by Rev. Gretta Vosper on May, 24 2018

    And so, as you know, I eschew the language of traditional Christianity (and liberal, and progressive) and work, instead, to model and inspire others with how it is we might live, loving and celebrating life in its many guises and wrestling with the innumerable challenges that doing so presents. All the while, I remain confident that while it may be the least popular way, it remains the only way to reduce Christianity to its most essential truth – that we must love one another – and tell that story to a new and very precarious world.

  • What is God?

    Essay by Fred Plumer on April, 26 2018

    A few weeks ago, I recommended to our Progressing Spirit writers that we should all write articles that responded to Bishop Spong’s book, Unbelievable. Then it hit me. I was going to be doing the article this week and as I had suggested to our writers, I would have to start with Spong’s first thesis. “Holy moly,” what was I thinking? For Spong’s first thesis is “God.” Now, I am a student of the Bible. I have been studying it for over forty years. Nearly thirty years ago I came to the dramatic conclusion that the vast majority, if not the entire Bible, was written as metaphor by people who may have been very bright for their time in history but were largely ignorant of the world that inherited this book. We really do not understand the world they lived in, and obviously, they did not understand the world we live in today. Many of their sincere beliefs would be considered, at best, superstitions today. That is one of the reasons it has always amazed me people can argue for an inerrant interpretation of the Bible, using the Bible to “prove” their own interpretation.