A religious revolution opened the door for us to pursue our present lethal course. Does not this historical fact indicate that a religious counter-revolution will be needed for inspiring us and nerving us to retrace our steps before we reach the precipice that yawns close ahead of us along our present gadarene course?.
--Arnold Toynbee, historian
The Two Edged Sword
The Dual Face of Religion, Oppressor and Liberator.
In the town where I grew up there were two types of families, the divorced ones and the religious ones.
The Lawrences were divorced. They lived in a whirlwind of "anything goes," and the only things I remember the children ever getting punished for involved inconvience, rudeness, or expense. They didn't go to church, except maybe on Easter. They didn't have religion as far as I knew, but they did have fun, even if they also had a lot of chaos and problems. We could always count on "Aunt" Bobbi to pile us into the back of her old blue station wagon full of sandy, slightly mildewed beach towels and pineapple sequined bathing caps, to sweep us away for an adventure or a beach picnic.
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ANGELS IN AMERICA:
A New Religious Vision
"Better to sink in boundless deeps, than float on vulgar shoals." -Herman Melville
"Without a vision the people perish,"-- Proverbs 29/18
Visions are tough in a post-modern world. What is my moral vision and how do I know? Peace? Sure, but... A world of sufficiency for everyone? Well, yes. Living in harmony with nature? Seems like a no-brainer. But all of these ring trite, if true. Lacking in teeth.
What is my moral authority and what my call? Anything is likely to offend someone. We have become so individualized that we hesitate to speak beyond particularity. Yet if we do not venture beyond, our visions can never transcend personal opining, where, in a parody of democratic values, we consider all opinions to be created equal. Thus our public visions fragment into private hopes. As Robert Bellah et al point out in the now classic, Habits of the Heart, the language of psychology has supplanted moral language. And while the technologies and insights of transformation and human potential are useful and applicable to both individuals and the culture, they are neither normative nor public in their scope for the creation of happiness and a moral commonwealth.
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Whatever Happened to Hell
A Sermon on an Unpopular Subject
Good Morning. It's a beautiful day, isn't it? Here we are in this beautiful city, in this beautiful church, and uh oh, now it's coming. Some of you, when you saw the topic of my sermon in the newsletter this week, asked me, "Reverend, are you really going to talk about hell?"
Why on earth would we spoil a beautiful morning talking about such an unpleasant topic? Most of us think of ourselves as relatively good folk. Maybe we cheat a little on our taxes, but no one here is a cat torturer or an ax murderer-at least not as far as I know! So we figure we're safe. If there were a hell, it wouldn't affect anyone WE know and love. So it's understandable you don't hear much about hell in churches these days-at least not in the nice, respectable, mainstream liberal churches you and I attend. Better to leave that sort of thing to the Southern Baptists .
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