Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Secular Religion



After 25 years
, Westar is not only looking back. Westar is starting a new seminar, "The God Seminar" to take on questions related to the topic of God. What do we mean when we use the word "God"?




Thomas Sheehan of Stanford and Stephen Patterson of Willamette started us off today.
Here are some memorable quotes.

From Thomas Sheehan:


memento mori – learn to live with your mortality. For those who can do this, God is not necessary at all.

God is first secular humanist. God created the saeculum and turned it over to humans.

Faith precisely is not seeing God. It is seeing only this world and interpreting it.

Spirituality always trumps religion. It is the existential practice of trying to become oneself in a community of other selves. You and the person next to you are the locus of the sacred. Living out those duties is spirituality.



From Stephen Patterson:

Religion has become simply believing incredible things. This is dangerous. Religion is (among other things) an expression of power. So mix power and the lack of thinking critically and you get mayhem.

Secular religion = Religion that presumes that the subject matter is the meaning of this life now.

Religion is attending to transcendent things (such as love, beauty, justice, mercy, wonder, belonging, grace, care, mystery, purpose, reconciliation, connection, peace, home).

Secular religion—search for God in the experience of meaningfulness in life.

Tomorrow we begin a seminar on the authentic Paul.
The seminar will celebrate the unveiling of



The Authentic Letters of Paul: A New Reading of Paul's Rhetoric and Meaning by Arthur J. Dewey, Roy W. Hoover, Lane C. McGaughy and Daryl D. Schmidt.



This is a fascinating book. It is an entire new translation of Paul's seven authentic letters in chronological order and with interpolations that were not originally Paul but that had been inserted in some of his letters removed and relegated to an appendix, so Paul's voice comes through. This is from the Introduction:
Readers will find that the Paul of the letters is not synonymous with the Lutheran Paul, nor the Augustinian Paul. He is neither the professional theologian, nor the ecclesial misogynist. Rather, the Paul who emerges is an extraordinarily zealous Pharisaic Jew who experienced a paradigm shift so profound that it transformed the way he saw the world and all in it. This man is a thinker and rhetorician, a visionary and prophet, whose experience of God was so profound that he re-imagined the conditions of existence. This is a man who was alert to the world about him, able to use metaphors that both speak to and challenge his world. This is a utopian thinker who joins in the cultural debate of his time over what constitutes the value and meaning of humanity. This is a man who has glimpsed what it means to live beyond tribal or ethnic boundaries. This is a man who can imagine those considered outsiders as equals, a man who has found freedom and meaning in the rag-tag communities of "nobodies." p. 1
One of its authors, Arthur J. Dewey is coming to Elizabethon, October 29 and 30. He will be joined by Bernard Brandon Scott.




I caught them smiling in anticipation of their trip to East Tennessee!
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