Brian McLaren EMC http://brianmclaren.net/ en-us plushy55@yahoo.com 2015-04-26T14:54:09-05:00 hourly 1 2000-01-01T12:00+00:00 Just a heads up ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/just-a-heads-up.html My 2014 book We Make the Road by Walking will release in paperback June 9, 2015. At about $12.00, it will be even easier to use in groups - congregations, classes, campus groups, online discussions, family devotions, etc.

I'll be sharing information soon on my next book via my email newsletter. You can stay in touch by signing up here.

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6105@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-26T14:54:09-05:00
Earth Day … a conservative value! http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/earth-day-a-conservative-value.html Here's my piece in the Hill Blog today ...

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6100@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-22T12:49:04-05:00
Right? Wong? http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/right-wong.html Wisdom from Michael Hidalgo …

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6099@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-22T08:15:30-05:00
Dear President Obama ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/dear-president-obama-1.html Dear Mr. President,

I hear that you’ll be coming to my neighborhood this Wednesday for Earth Day. Thank you so much for coming. If you want to stop by for coffee or lunch, I’d love to have you!

I lived in the Washington, DC, area for most of my life, but chose to move to SW Florida (Marco Island) because I love the beauty and wildlife of this region, especially the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands.

Whenever I can spare a few hours from my work as a writer, speaker, and activist, I get outdoors to enjoy manatees and alligators, tarpon and snook, gopher tortoises and burrowing owls, swallow-tailed kites and bald eagles, cabbage palms and cocoplums. I volunteer in a number of initiatives to protect endangered species and ecosystems so they aren’t poisoned by polluters or destroyed by so-called developers.

That’s why I’m glad you’re coming here to draw attention to our region. We are blessed with natural treasures, but we are plagued by even more threats poised to plunder them - for short-term corporate and political profit.

Recently, a group of brave activists in the region managed to run off a Texas firm that was trying to frack the Everglades. But environmental successes are rare in a state whose politicians think Florida can never have too many sleazy strip malls, cheap hotels, or paved-and-gated communities ... and who remain in either ignorant or feigned denial about global warming and sea level rise in the very state that will suffer most from it.

You’ve heard that our governor told state employees they can’t use the term “global warming.” I can tell you that I’ve heard similar stories - and worse - from wildlife biologists and other environmentalists here. For example, environmental professionals have been told not to use the word “environmental monitoring” because, according to our governor, “monitoring kills jobs.” They have to use words like “research” instead of “conservation” because our governor and his allies, in spite of the fact that they love to wave the “conservative” flag and appear on "conservative" cable TV, seem to care little about conserving Florida's environmental treasures.

Judging by what I see here in Florida, "conservative" actually means "exploitive." It seems to me that spokespeople of the dominant political narrative here have never met a long-term natural public asset that they don’t want to convert into some rich donor’s short-term cash asset.

This breaks the hearts of those of us who believe in values that transcend cash value.

As a committed Christian, former pastor, and faith-based activist, I agree with St. Paul who said, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” My faith teaches me that the Creator deemed creation “good” and “very good.” That means all creation has an inherent spiritual value that matters more than monetary value. Each time I see an osprey circling or a dolphin leaping or an old-growth cypress towering into the Florida sky, their inherent value inspires me with awe, wonder, worship, and gratitude … and their transcendent value motivates me to speak from my heart on their behalf.

So thank you, Mr. President, for coming to the Everglades on Earth Day to celebrate the value and beauty of my neighborhood. Thank you for all you can do to save this beautiful and fragile part of the world that is suffering because of human greed, ignorance, and political cowardice.

With gratitude and respect,

Brian D. McLaren

everglades.jpg

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6098@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-19T13:11:25-05:00
Theologian Thomas Oord takes you outside ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/theologian-thomas-oord-takes-you.html

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6097@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-18T07:27:14-05:00
How America Became "Christian" - http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/how-america-became-christian.html Fascinating and disturbing interview with Terry Gross and Kevin Kruse here:
http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/381444908/396402359/npr_396402359.mp3?orgId=1&e=396402359&d=2949&ft=pod&f=381444908&_kip_ipx=728755950-1428754115

To adapt a quote, we might say, "In the Soviet Union and China, capitalism conquered socialism and communism. In the USA, capitalism conquered democracy and Christianity."

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6096@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-11T08:09:10-05:00
Wisdom about communication ... from Wm. Paul Young http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/wisdom-about-communication-from.html Here:
http://wmpaulyoung.com/an-invitation-to-a-different-kind-of-conversation/

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6095@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-10T07:55:03-05:00
Hypocrisy indeed: David Cortright gets it right http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/hypocrisy-indeed-david-cortright.html Quotable:
President Obama has said the United States supports the goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons, but some in his administration seem not to have gotten the memo. The Washington Post article has a stunningly cynical yet honest quote from the former White House Coordinator for Arms Control Gary Samore, replying to South Africa’s nuclear negotiator:

“Nuclear disarmament is not going to happen…It’s a fantasy. We need our weapons for our safety, and we’re not going to give them up.”

This from the person responsible for managing the President’s supposed commitment to disarmament. Hypocrisy indeed.


More here.

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6093@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-10T07:32:43-05:00
Will I see you in Fort Worth this weekend? http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/will-i-see-you-in-fort-worth-thi.html I hope so! More here.

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6094@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-09T17:35:11-05:00
Q & R: Starting a group? http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-starting-a-group.html Here's the Q:
Hi I live in the Hamilton, On, Canada and would love to start a group or join a group already Walking on the Road. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Here's the R:
I worked hard in designing the book to make it super-easy for groups to use. You'll find lots of resources here … and you'll see posts from some other groups using the book here.

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6091@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-08T06:55:55-05:00
A resource for bishops, executive presbyters, DS's, priests, pastors, Bible study leaders, and others ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/a-resource-for-bishops-executive.html Many brave souls stepped out to try We Make the Road by Walking for some or all of the 2014-2015 church year. Reports have been so encouraging. I just learned that the book will come out in softcover in June, which will be an advantage for using the book in groups for 2015-2016. Here's a note I received recently:

I want to let you know that we have had several covenant groups read your Lenten section together. The group I facilitate is such a gift, and I wanted to share about it quickly with you: it seems to me that this group embodies your hope for the book.

We are only 8-10 or so depending on the week. We are from a wide range on the socio-economic spectrum, of 3 different ethnicities, in different places (in our abilities and limitations physically and educationally) not to mention theologically. Half come from the church, half come from the neighborhood.

One just received their first housing through a voucher program; one is a single dad; one has cerebral palsy; all are beautiful creatures of God.

Your book decentralizes leadership so everyone feels welcome, despite their education or literacy level. Those that feel comfortable read a paragraph and pass the book around the circle. Our discussions are lively and spirited (we never finish in our timeframe!) and the participants are engaged and ALIVE! …which was your hope in writing, I believe, and I wanted you to know that it has come to be in this little corner of [Texas]! Thanks be to God!


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6090@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-06T06:50:03-05:00
Dean Gregory Jones gets it right ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/dean-gregory-jones-gets-it-right.html on Institutions. Here.
Quotable:
We need a richer Christian account of vibrant institutions that is cognizant of personal as well as institutional sin and redemption. For, as Heclo notes, “institutional thinking has to do with living committed to the ends for which organization occurs rather than to an organization as such.” And Christians should have a clear sense of the end for which we live and move and have our being. We are well-equipped to narrate the vices and virtues that are intrinsic to thinking institutionally.

In this time of cultural turmoil, when economic challenges are troubling even strong institutions, we cannot afford any longer to be cynical about or hate institutions. It is time to develop a robust Christian theological imagination for, and understanding of, them. Indeed, we need to learn, by God, to love the institutions we need.

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6085@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-06T05:06:15-05:00
I love these photos ... http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/i-love-these-photos.html and they seem especially fitting for Easter.
https://www.facebook.com/lifeofdad/photos/a.434607921426.227352.299622516426/10153110170541427/?type=1&theater

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6092@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-05T06:00:51-05:00
Easter Sunday http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/easter-sunday.html This is an excerpt from We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 33: The Uprising Begins (Easter Sunday)
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Ezekiel 37:1–14
Luke 24:1–32
Colossians 1:9–29

Let’s imagine ourselves with the disciples on the first Easter Sunday.

Here’s what we heard. At dawn, before the sun has risen, some women who are part of our movement went to the tomb to properly wash Jesus’ corpse and prepare it for burial. When they arrived, they had a vision involving angels. One of the women claimed that Jesus appeared to her. The rest of us think it was just the gardener.

The gardener! What a place to be buried—a grave in a garden! A bed of death in a bed of life!

The women came and told the disciples. Peter went running back and found the tomb empty. Empty! And the burial cloths were still there, neatly folded. Who would take a naked corpse and leave the bloody cloths that it was wrapped in? Peter wondered what was going on—but he didn’t have any clear theory.

We all speculated, but none of us knew what to think. We decided to go back home. That’s where we are now—walking on the road back home. It’s about a seven-mile walk to our little town of Emmaus. It takes a couple hours. Along the way we’ve been talking about all this, trying to come up with some kind of interpretation of the events that have transpired. Now we notice this other fellow walking toward us, a stranger. We lower our voices. He comes a little closer.

“What are you folks talking about?” he asks.

One of us replies, “Are you kidding? Are you the only person in this whole region who doesn’t know all that’s been happening around Jerusalem recently?”

“Like what?” he asks.

We tell him about Jesus, that he was clearly a prophet who said and did amazing things. We tell him how the religious and political leaders came together to arrest him. We go into some detail about the crucifixion on Friday. “We had hoped,” one of us says, and pauses. “We had hoped…that this Jesus was the one who was going to turn things around for Israel, that he would set us free from the Roman occupation.”

We walk on a few steps, and he adds, “And this morning was the third day since his death, and some women from our group told us that they had a vision of angels who said he was alive.” It’s pretty clear from the tone of his voice that none of us take the report of the women very seriously.

That’s when the stranger interrupts. “You just don’t get it, do you?” he says. “This is exactly what the prophets said would happen. They have been telling us all along that the Liberator would have to suffer and die like this before entering his glory.” As we continue walking, he starts explaining things to us from the Scriptures. He begins with Moses, and step by step he shows us the pattern of God’s work in history, culminating in what happened in Jerusalem in recent days. God calls someone to proclaim God’s will.

Resistance and rejection follow, often culminating in an expulsion or murder to silence the speaker. But this isn’t a sign of defeat. This is the only way God’s most important messages are ever heard—through someone on the verge of being rejected. God’s word doesn’t come in dominating, crushing force. It comes only in vulnerability, in weakness, in gentleness…just as we have seen over this last week.

At this point, we realize we’ve reached home already, and as we slow down, the stranger just keeps walking. We plead with him to stay here with us, since it’s getting late and will soon be dark. So he comes in and we sit down at our little table for a meal. He reaches to the center of the table and takes a loaf of bread and gives thanks for it. He breaks it and hands a piece of it to each of us and…

It hits us at the same instant. This isn’t a stranger…this is…it couldn’t be—yes, this is Jesus! We each look down at the fragment of bread in our hands, and when we look back up to the stranger…he is gone!

And we start talking, one interrupting the other. “When he spoke about Moses and the prophets, did you feel—?” “—Inspired? Yes. It felt like my heart was glowing, hotter and hotter, until it was ready to ignite.” “Did this really happen, or was it just a vision?” “Just a vision? Maybe a vision means seeing into what’s more real than anything else.” “But it wasn’t just me, right? You saw him too, right? You felt it too, right?” “What do we do now? Shouldn’t we…tell the others?” “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s go back to Jerusalem, even though it’s late. I could never sleep after experiencing this!”

So we pack our gear and rush back to the city, excited and breathless. On our earlier journey, we were filled with one kind of perplexity—disappointment, confusion, sadness. Now we feel another kind of perplexity—wonder, awe, amazement, almost-too-good-to-be-true-ness. “Do you realize what this means?” one of us asks, and then answers his own question: “Jesus was right after all! Everything he stood for has been vindicated!”
“Yes. And something else. We never have to fear death again.”

“And if that’s true,” another answers, “we never need to fear Caesar and his forces again, either. Their only real weapon is fear, and if we lose our fear, what power do they have left? Ha! Death has lost its sting! That means we can stand tall and speak the truth, just like Jesus did.” “We never need to fear anyone again.” “This changes everything.” “It’s not just that Jesus was resurrected. It feels like we have arisen too. We were in a tomb of defeat and despair. But now—look at us! We’re truly alive again!”

We talk as fast as we walk. We recall Jesus’ words from Thursday night about his body and blood. We remember what happened on Friday when his body and his blood were separated from one another on the cross. That’s what crucifixion was, we realize: the slow, excruciating, public separation of body and blood. So, we wonder, could it be that in the holy meal, when we remember Jesus, we are making space for his body and blood to be reunited and reconstituted in us? Could our remembering him actually re-member and resurrect him in our hearts, our bodies, our lives? Could his body and blood be reunited in us, so that we become his new embodiment? Is that why we saw him and then didn’t see him—because the place he most wants to be seen is in our bodies, among us, in us?

It’s dark when we reach Jerusalem. Between this day’s sunrise and today’s sunset, our world has been changed forever. Everything is new. From now on, whenever we break the bread and drink the wine, we will know that we are not alone. The risen Christ is with us, among us, and within us—just as he was today, even though we didn’t recognize him. Resurrection has begun. We are part of something rare, something precious, something utterly revolutionary.

It feels like an uprising. An uprising of hope, not hate. An uprising armed with love, not weapons. An uprising that shouts a joyful promise of life and peace, not angry threats of hostility and death. It’s an uprising of outstretched hands, not clenched fists. It’s the “someday” we have always dreamed of, emerging in the present, rising up among us and within us. It’s so different from what we expected—so much better. This is what it means to be alive, truly alive. This is what it means to be en route, walking the road to a new and better day. Let’s tell the others: the Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed!
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6089@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-05T05:05:05-05:00
Holy Saturday http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/holy-saturday.html This is an excerpt from We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 32C: Doubt. Darkness. Despair (Holy Saturday)
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Psalm 77
Psalm 88
Ecclesiastes 1:1–11
Job 10:1–22
Let us imagine ourselves with the disciples on that Saturday after the crucifixion. We are hiding together in a home, engaged in sober, somber conversation.
Perhaps our descendants, the disciples of the future, will call this a day of waiting. But we are not waiting. For us, there is nothing to wait for. All we know is what was lost yesterday as Jesus died on the cross. For us, it’s all over. This is a day of doubt, despair, disillusionment, devastation.

Certain details of the killing yesterday are hard to shake. Jesus, carrying his cross on the road to Golgotha, surrounded by women who were weeping for him. Jesus telling them, “Don’t weep for me. Weep for yourselves and your children.” What did he mean? Was he telling them that the violence spilling out on him was only a trickle of the reservoir that waited behind the scenes to flood the whole region?

Then there was Peter…so full of bluster at dinner on Thursday, such a coward later that night, and invisible all of yesterday. And Judas—to think we trusted him as our treasurer! At least the women stayed true…the women, and John, who was entrusted with Mary’s care as her surrogate son. None of us can imagine what yesterday must have been like for Mary. She has carried so much in her heart for so long, and now this.

Then there was that strange darkness, as if the whole world were being uncreated, and there was that strange rumor about the veil in the Temple being torn from top to bottom. Was that an image for God in agony, like a man tearing his clothes in fury over the injustice that was happening. Or was it a rejection of the priesthood for their complicity in the crime—a way of saying that God was done with the priests and the Temple, that God would welcome people into the Holiest Place without their assistance? Or maybe it could mean that God is on the loose—that God is through with being contained in a stone structure and behind a thick curtain and wants to run free through the world like the wind? That’s a nice sentiment, but not likely from today’s vantage point. Today it best symbolizes that no place is holy any more. If a murder like this can take place in the so-called Holy City, supported by the so-called Holy Priesthood, then holiness is nothing but a sham. It’s a torn curtain, and behind it only emptiness lies.

On top of it all, we have to come to terms with the fact that Jesus seemed to know all this was coming. True, at the last minute, just before the betrayal and arrest, he prayed that the cup might pass from him. But he had been telling us that something terrible was coming—telling us since back in Caesarea Philippi, when Peter confessed him as the Liberating King and the true Leader, telling us in many ways, even in his parables.

He loved life. Yet he did not cling to it. He loved life. Yet he was not controlled by the fear of death. In the garden Thursday night, it seemed as if to him, the fear of death was more dangerous than death itself, so he needed to deal with the fear once and for all. But look where that got him. Maybe it would have been better for him to flee back to Galilee. Lots of other people are living in communes out in the desert, waiting for Jerusalem and all it represents to crumble under its own weight. Maybe that was what we should have done.

But it’s too late now.

That one Roman soldier was impressed by him, but the others—all they cared about was seeing who would win a dead man’s garment with a roll of the dice. True to form—playing games and obsessed with clothes and money to the very end!

Then came that moment when one of the rebels who was being crucified with Jesus started mocking him. When the other rebel spoke up to defend Jesus, Jesus said those kind words to him about being with him in Paradise. Even then he had compassion for someone else. Even in death he was kind to a neighbor. And finally there was that haunting moment when he spoke of forgiveness…for those who were crucifying him, and for us all.

Normal, sane people would have said, “God, damn them to hell forever for what they have done!” But not Jesus.“They don’t understand what they’re doing,” he said.

What did our leaders think they were doing? Protecting law and order? Preserving the status quo? Conserving what little peace and security we have left? Silencing a heretic or blasphemer? Shutting down a rabble-rouser and his burgeoning movement?

Right up to the last minute we dared hope that God would send in some angels, stop the whole charade, and let everyone see how wrong they were and how right Jesus was. But no last-minute rescue came. Only death came. Bloody, sweaty, filthy, ugly death. Just before he died, it seemed that even he had lost faith. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he cried. Maybe some shred of hope remained, though, because his last words were, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Now. Now, he is dead. Does that mean this uprising is dead, too? We feel a chill as we realize that possibility. What do we do now? Do we leave, go back home, pick up our lives where we left them before all this started for us? Do we try to carry on the teaching of a…dead, defeated, failed, and discredited leader? Do we turn cynical, disillusioned, dark, bitter? Fishing and tax collecting will seem meaningless compared to the memories of these last three years. But that’s all we have left…fishing, tax collecting, and memories. The adventure of Jesus is dead and done.

Maybe we have all been fools. Maybe Pontius Pilate was right when he told Jesus that truth didn’t matter, only power matters—the power of swords and spears, chariots and crosses, whips and nails. Or maybe the Sadducees and their rich friends in Jerusalem are right: life is short, and then you die, so amass all the money you can, by any means you can. And while you can, eat the best food and drink the best wine, because that’s all there is.
Wine. That brings us back to Thursday night there, around the table. “Remember me. Remember me. I will not eat of this until…” Until?

Did Jesus really believe that death wasn’t the last word? Did he really believe that there was any hope of…

That’s too much to believe today. Today, we sink in our doubt. Today we drown in our despair. Today we are pulled down, down, down, in our pain and disappointment. Today we allow ourselves to question everything about the story we have been told.

Creation? Maybe God made this world, or maybe it’s all a cruel, meaningless joke.
Crisis? Maybe violence and hate are just the way of the world. Maybe they’re not an intrusion or anomaly; maybe they’re the way things are and will always, always be.
Calling? Forget about being blessed to be a blessing. Today we lie low and nurse our wounds. It is a dangerous world out there. We would be wise to stay inside and lock all doors.
Captivity? Who cares if Moses succeeded in getting our ancestors out of slavery in Egypt? Jesus failed, and there’s no Moses for us now. We’re still captives, worse off than we were before that crazy Galilean came and raised our hopes.
Conquest? If the most violent win and the nonviolent are killed, what kind of world is it?
Conversation? Today it seems that the skeptics and doubters were right. There’s nothing to say except, “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity!” Today’s lament feels like the only sure truth in all the sacred Scriptures!
Christ? What Christ? He lies in a grave, cold and dead, and with him, all our hopes for a better way to be alive.

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6088@http://brianmclaren.net/ Blog 2015-04-04T06:19:28-05:00