Volume 8, Issue 6

Embracing the Mystery

Cover Stories

Purchasing Bewilderment
By Rev. Candace Chellew
In the end, we must sell all this cleverness about God and purchase bewilderment. We are reduced to mystery. We are reduced to simply saying, “God is,” because the God that can be described is not the eternal God. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal name.

A Parable Jesus Would Like
By Lori Heine
When I take my step back, breathe in deep and think in the peaceful silence between God and me when we’re alone together, I find I can see things about God more clearly. This is not the same as seeing God directly, but it helps. And the image that I find perhaps most helpful comes from a way of seeing that Jesus especially loved: a parable. Not one of His own, but an ancient Indian legend I believe He would have liked.

Through a Glass Darkly
By John H. Campbell
To me the need for a precise and narrow definition of God seems so unnecessary in order to keep faith in God alive, especially since I see God every day, and I have proof and assurance within my heart that God is alive and well, always has been and always will be. You want to know where I see evidence that God is real and Loves us all unconditionally? Everywhere I look, and in all of life.

Seven Wonders of the World
By Roger Stratton
How do we embrace the mystery of God? A Course in Miracles says we need not seek the truth. We should instead seek to understand what is not true. Once we have eliminated what is false, only the truth is left. So what is false? That we live in an ordinary world surrounded by ordinary events, that ordinary people have all figured out.

What Is … May Be for Good Reasons!
By George R. Stritikus
I still remember how thunderstruck I was when it first dawned on me that things just may be the way they are for very good reasons. This insight was a long time coming to me! I now see that this insight actually affirms faith, or affirms that God underlies all that is and that it is for many times incomprehensible Good — the appropriate fruit of an Easter meditation!


How I Changed My Mind
By Bishop Jack M. Tuell
So what are we to do if we are to change the mind of the UMC to make it more inclusive to all of God’s children? We change its heart. We help all of our people to experience the hurt, the pain, the trauma, the rejection which our present policy inflicts on good and faithful Christians.

Theology Matters
By Debbie Graham, R.N.
Jesus has been getting a lot of press lately, thanks to Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” That is one good thing that has come from this controversial movie. The secular press has woken up to the fact that America is a very religious nation. They are starting to pay attention to this reality of American life.

Rediscovering Christ in Old Summer Traditions
By Bryan Siefert
Though summer is filled with life it is the season of “in between” for Christians. The Easter celebrations waned months ago and Christmas remains a dream. Are there traditions, besides Vacation Bible School and the occasional ice cream social, which Christians might observe to keep the light of Christ burning?

It’s Time to Rock the Boat Again!
By UTHER, from the Town by the Sea
Over the course of the past year or so, I have stopped attending church. (Like an abused dog, hiding in the corner and licking its wounds, I have decided to punish the church by removing my august presence.) The reasons are multitude, and most of them trivial, however those trivial reasons have served to add fuel to the fire. There is one overwhelming reason for my action. I feel betrayed by my church. I feel betrayed because I found staunch conservatism on an issue important to me.

Solar Prayer
By David Zhang
To me, healing comes in the form of restoring connections. Death happens when you become separate from the world of life. I believe that death, like life, is only temporary. To be resurrected, you have to find a way back. You have to find a connection between the other side and this one. I spent a long time in death before I woke up again.

Rose and Butterfly: A Love Story
By Cristy Shauck
Tall, blond, blue-eyed Emmet, a just-hired, fresh-off-the-plane techno-nerd, meets debonair waiter Philip, a wirey mix of Spanish, African-American and Irish ancestors, a human ratdog with a mustache and the panache of Barishnikov. They settle into a three-bedroom apartment in Sunnyvale.


Amazed by Grace: An Interview with Author Philip Yancey
By Rev. Candace Chellew
I must now confess that I unfairly judged Yancey. I let a silly “guilt-by-association” taint my opinion of him even before giving his books a chance. I regret that, but perhaps God knows best. If I had read Yancey in 1997 I might not have appreciated his gentleness, his grace or his mercy quite as much as I do now.

Book Excerpt: A Life of Unlearning
By Anthony Venn-Brown
It was a tragic way to end a successful and rewarding career. At the age of forty, my entire world was caving in. I’d lived most of my life with only one ambition — to preach God’s word — and worked desperately hard to achieve it. During the last eight years especially, I’d seen the fulfillment of this lifelong dream. Now my twenty-two years of struggle, sacrifice and achievements were coming to a horrifying conclusion.

Reshaping Power: A Review of “Why Bush Must Go” by Bennett J. Sims
By Rev. Candace Chellew
With a title like “Why Bush Must Go,” you might expect The Right Reverend Bennett J. Sims’ book to be a political screed, filled with rants about how horribly our president has led this country through days filled with terror and war. That’s what I expected. My assumption was happily wrong.

Growing the Honest Church: A Review of “The Dishonest Church” by Jack Good
By Andrew Furlong
The main issues addressed in his book concern fear and cowardice, honesty and courage, pain and growth in the faith, respect for people and the mystery of God. His main argument is that clergy have gained a considerable amount of important theological knowledge while in training, but that they do not draw on it in their work in ministry, but revert to the more childlike faith that they had held prior to ordination training. He regards this situation as disastrous for the church and totally disrespectful of its lay membership.

Peace Through Justice: Reflections on a Lecture by John Dominic Crossan
By Rev. Candace Chellew
“First victory, then peace.” These were the words written on coins of first century Rome according to scholar Dr. John Dominic Crossan. The slogan does not epitomize “the evil of the Roman empire” with its stranglehold over conquered nations, including Israel. Instead, Crossan, in an April 1, 2004 lecture at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina, said it epitomized what he called “the normalcy of society” — a world where we still believe that “might makes right.”

Letters to the Editor

Same-Gender Marriage

Whose God Do You Serve?
By Rev. Troy Perry
In the current political debate, be reminded that distorted views of God invariably lead to the distortion of values and freedoms. It’s time for the current presidential administration to stop worshipping the God of political expediency — and take a fresh look at the God of love and justice.

The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage
By Christopher Hubble
Clearly, religious views in the United States regarding sexual orientation and sexual minorities continue to have an enormous impact on public policy. The current political row over civil marriage equality is only the most recent example of this fundamental reality.

What Jesus Said About Banning Gay Marriages
By Nick Emond
He said that when the law was first told, it was because the public’s heart was hard and could not accept the law as it was in its purest form. He finished off by saying, “what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

From the Pulpit

Ah! The Power of Prayer: Part Seven — “Why the Haunted House Is Always Empty”
By Rev. Brad Wishon
Prayer, as Jesus shows us, is making peace with your past, peace with your path, peace with the choices you have made and embracing your life today. It is learning to incorporate all that has been that you might journey to all that is today.

Scattered Peace!
By Gary Simpson
Rabbi Harold Kushner says the words of religion are words of encouragement, not words of condemnation. Through James, the Lord is encouraging us to live in such a way that our faith in Jesus is a positive force in the world. James is not intended to make us feel like failures. Through the book of James, God is cheering us on, encouraging us to do better.

Bible Study and Inspiration

Lepers, Loons and Losers: The Outcasts of the Gospels — Part 4: The Widow of Nain
By Tom Yeshua
As a widow, this woman from the small town of Nain would have been left with no one to defend her, provide for her, lift her spirits. She was wife to no one, mother to no one; she was lost and crushed with grief.

Queering the Gospel, Part 3
By Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker
If any institution in society should be fighting for full and equal rights for queer people, it should be the Church! God’s gay and lesbian children are not only deserving of full acceptance, but must be allowed to marry, not only civilly, but in churches as well!

Holy Humor

Updated Beatitudes

Footprints, Revisited