Spirituality

The Ghost of God

The Ghost of God

(Photo by Rythik)

“Though this deity has long since died in my theological imagination, I’ve still yet to eradicate it from the deeper structures of my mind. While I wish it was possible to simply exchange one set of beliefs for another, I’ve come to question whether our minds work like that. Trauma doesn’t neatly or quietly subside due to the passage of time. Some things insist on haunting us.

In the following sections, I’ll describe what it was like growing up in a fundamentalist congregation in the South and what it’s been like on the other side of this “death of God” – how I tried to cope in mainline, liberal seminaries, and what I’ve learned along the way from my attempts to rid myself of this ghastly presence. “

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Therapy is My Church

Therapy is My Church

(Photo: MindBodyStock)

“As a therapist, I believe my commission is to close the distance between myself and those who have been wounded – which is no different than how I understand the Christian commission.  As a therapist, I believe that my job is to listen well and ask good questions – which is no different than I understand how to be in relationship with anyone, client or otherwise.   When I find myself rejecting others (clients, friends, family members, politicians, people on Twitter), I try my best to understand what is being triggered in me and find a way to avoid treating them as an ‘other.’ “

(Dr. Devlyn McCreight)

Unmasked

Unmasked

(Photo Unknown)

“Masks allow us to pretend, to be someone or something other than who we are for a bit. The timid can be brave, in lion masks. The plain can put on feathers and flambouyance. The wise can be foolish. And the foolish…well…you know… Masks are all pretense, misdirection, fantasy. Masks are fun or spooky, glamorous or mysterious.

But friends. When masks become our daily uniform, when we hide the reality of our lives, our truest joys and our deepest anguishes, from the world--when we hide us from ourselves--then our masks will be our undoing.”

(By Leigh Anne Armstrong)

Biblical Abundance and Gender

Biblical Abundance and Gender

(Photo by Raphael Rychetsky)

Using a transgender person’s name is a big deal. A recent study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health found that simply using a transgender person’s chosen name can reduce their risk of suicide by 65 percent….Extending the notion of coming out as a process akin to discerning a call, Scripture presents us with abundant evidence of the importance of a name with regard to one’s sense of call. When God promises Abram and Sarai they will be the ancestors of multitudes, God calls them Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:5,15). After Jacob wrestles his blessing from the angel, he is no longer Jacob, but Israel (Genesis 32:28)….”

(By Jess Cook)

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

(Photo Unknown)

“Outside of certain periods, like the two Great Awakenings or the post-World War II era, a full-throated, zealous participation in Christianity has never been 100% in these Southern states. Perhaps what we’re witnessing in the rural South, then, is similar to a decline in church membership elsewhere in the country, and perhaps it’s also more in line with the general trends throughout the South’s own checkered past. We’ve never collectively been as fervently Christian as what is often told about us or what we tell others about ourselves.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

An Unattainable Path

An Unattainable Path

(Photo by Fischer Twins)

“The way we have told this story of God for a very long time is an utterly unattainable path of perfectionism. The practice of regular church attendance, and studying your Bible every day, and giving the right amount of money to church, and "being Christian = being nice to everyone" not only sets us all up for failure but sets us all up for not telling the truth about our lives.“

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

When Hope isn't Found in the Resurrection

When Hope isn't Found in the Resurrection

(Photo by Marc Boswell)

“For some, these questions are uncomfortable ones.  Like me, they were likely taught to never be angry with or to question God.  To do so was to be unfaithful, but I no longer believe that crap.  Jesus asked these very questions and experienced the same seasons of grief, fear and isolation that we all do, and yet Jesus found hope not in being delivered from evil, but in knowing that God was with him no matter what came.”

(By Rev. Bojangles Blanchard)

My Seminary has Closed...

My Seminary has Closed...

(Photo: Unsplash)

“As a pastor trained by the 20th century but living and serving in the 21st, I know the next steps for all churches will require us to bless and release much of how things have always been. To move forward with integrity, we all must dream, innovate and discern what the next, right steps are.

Those steps won’t be the same for every church or divinity school or other religious organization. Some will face the hard truth of needing to close their doors.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

Returning...

Returning...

(Photo: Unknown)

“What I can do is bear witness to the impact that [Thich Nhat Hahn], his writings, his teachings, and his life had on me and, I suspect, other Western Christians. And while I have no idea if this was his intention…I can state, unambiguously, that his Buddhism made me a better Christian, a truth that I’d like to offer a few words to explain.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

(Photo: Marc Boswell)

“This is why Black theologians should not hesitate to seek the Spiritual within and reflect theologically upon all facets of cultural productions present in the Black community that are shaping the contours of Black life. This led Cone to examine the Blues as theological texts, defying the binary mentioned at the beginning of this essay in which some theologians ignore the religious depth of so-called secular texts.”

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams, I)

The Weight of Peace

The Weight of Peace

(Photo: Audra Melton)

“If, because my life is fine, I decide that all lives are fine, I am only a mercenary and not a citizen, out to get the spoils of this life without regard for my sisters' and brothers' welfare. Real justice leaves no one behind. Hope won't allow it.

(By Leigh Anne Armstrong)

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

(Photo credit unknown)

“Buddhist meditation, therefore, not only taught me a new way to pray, it also provided a desperately needed detour around an anthropomorphic mode of thinking about the Sacred…. To state it differently, my soul was yearning for a concept and experience of the divine that wasn’t rooted in a theology anchored by a powerful male deity who held sinners in ‘H’is hands over the pits of hell.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

(Photo Credit Unknown)

“Like Lazarus being called out of the tomb, or Mary Magdalene whose eyes were opened to the resurrected Christ upon hearing her name, we know you have called ___’s name and claimed them as your own. When things get difficult, remind ___ of this community who loves them and has promised to walk through life with them.”

(By Jess Cook, M.Div.)

A Migrant Caravan

A Migrant Caravan

(John Moore/Getty Images)

“Our sacred story tells us of mothers and fathers who grab their babies and children and whatever they can carry on their back because the food has run out and there are no more jobs and people actively want to kill them. Our sacred story tells us to care for and welcome and embrace these people who are fleeing.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

The People We Don't Care About

The People We Don't Care About

(Photo by Walter Bennett)

“Today, the forgotten folks of Appalachia, the rural South, the formerly industrial midwest, need a greater voice to speak for them just as the addicted across the country need folks to move beyond sympathy and towards honest to God care and concern.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

Who is it For?

Who is it For?

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“Why am I such a verbal curmudgeon when confronted with a grand gesture of generosity? Why am I so critical, indeed?  Is it the what people do for others in crisis moments that so unsettles me, or the when or the why? Or the who?”

(By Rev. Dr. Ellen Richardson)

Remembering the Charleston Nine

Remembering the Charleston Nine

(Photo credit unknown)

“These mixed media icon-like images were done by members of The Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church (Richmond, VA) for our All Saints’ Day celebration in November 2016.”

(By Rev. Janet James)

Litany for the Border

Litany for the Border

(Photo: Brendan McDermid / Reuters file)

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy…

(By Rev. Fran Pratt)