Thank you Bill for your website and your comments posted there. I have not had time to read it all yet so look forward to that.
I wish I could introduce you to my own congregation. I struggle sometimes when I have a worship leadership role in how to include and express progressive christian theology.
I am enjoying reading Ian Harris’s book “Creating God …”, no doubt you are familiar with it.
On the matter of prayer and healing, I can report that a physician we have consulted for 20 years, ex GP practicing complementary methods, offers prayer as part of the very successful treatment. He claims to demonstrate (using muscle strength testing) the difference this makes to the influence of toxic organisms by “killing” them and enabling & speeding subsequent (mostly homeopathic) treatment. I have witnessed this many times and always welcome the prayers and suspend disbelief. I interpret the prayer as engaging with the innate powers of the mind and spirit to affect the body’s ability to heal itself.
Any text suggestions for liturgical use would be most welcome.
I am sure that experience of any form of prayer that brings comfort in times of worry or illness is bound to have a positive dimension. My uncle who was a physician used to tell me that being a doctor was dead easy because more conditions came right by themsleves anyway with or without prayer or medicine for that matter. ie regression to the mean.There may even be a biochemical component to prayer in that since the brain has sometimes been called the biggest gland in the body, chemical release in response to particular thoughts in theory should have the potential to affect the condition of the body. For example times of stress eg battle situations is often reported to diminish (or override) pain. the release of the feelgood endodorphins after exercise or even thinking the appropriate thoughts is now established as a phenomenon. I guess the skeptic in me would want to distinguish between this and what I like to call the Harry Potter effect whereby the prayer is used as an incantation to defy the laws of nature and produce healing or any other affect which works against the laws of nature. ie prayer might well help you feel less stressed – but not necessarily help you grow back a severed finger or walk on water. Have a look at the book “Bad Science” byBen Goldacre for some introduction to scientific evaluation of homeopathy.
Re Liturgy of the Progressive Theology type, you could do worse than start with Rex Hunt who has his own web site, liturgies and sermons on the internet. For some thoughtful reading I have found Richard Holloway’s books to be helpful as a start.
In the light of your request for responses re the value of “First thoughts” I am forwarding tomorrow’s sermon. It’s dependence on your first thoughts will be obvious. With respect to its brevity, our third Sunday liturgy at Wembley Downs (Perth Western Australia) has a three minute sermon and ten minutes of silence. Co-incidentally next month we appoint one of our number as our “local Minister”. She will continue to work two days a week in medical research.
Love and Peace
I am no expert on middle eastern agriculture, but I do know that darnel is a serious weed in that it is host to the ergot smut fungus that is deadly to people and animals. It is indistinguishable from wheat in its early growth.
The position taken by Jesus is quite clear “Don’t weed!” The weed will be distinguishable at the harvest. It doesn’t grow as tall as wheat. Today they put the crop through a sieve through which the smaller darnel falls. In those days, they would reap only the tallest plants.
What was Jesus pointing up in this parable? It is our practice of categorising people.
You see it in the national and international sphere where a common enemy unites disparate people and political daleks go about chanting “Exterminate!”
You see it in the personal sphere where we separate people into good and bad, friend and foe, holy and heretic etc
It is a common tendency, this defining ourselves by reference to others. It is an attitude which bedevils us today just as it did the holy people of Jesus’ day, whose constant criticism of him was that he associated with sinners and disreputable people. Jesus would have nothing to do with the “holier than thou attitude”.
This is evidenced not only by his life but also in one of his most striking statements “Love your enemy”. Relate to them, talk with them, don’t separate yourselves from them, identify with them, seek their welfare, relate to them with compassion and understanding.
Don’t weed! Identifying people as weeds has no future. Leave the gardening to God and get on with the growing.
I particularly like the notion of a very short sermon and a long silence for contemplation. Very like the Quakers who I have visited from time to time. I sometimes get the feeling that sermons are not expected to generate any form of response, let alone thought. I also liked the Dr Who imagery. I find the idea that someone is using some of the material I post very encouraging.
Are you saying my favorite apple, “Pacific Rose” was genetically modified? How exactly?
It is genetically modified in that it has different genetic structure to that say of a Granny Smith apple. However the point is that this was achieved by the somewhat hit and miss procedure of selection of chosen preferred cultivars from a breeding programme – rather than the precisely targetted method of genetic engineering. Nevertheless the outcome is essentially the same – a variant which has different chomosome structure. If it wasnt different in genetic structure it wouldnt be recognised as different in the way it grew – ie a Pacific Rose apple. If you are frightened by a different genetic structure how it was produced is irrelevant.
HI Bill. I have just sent you an email. I was wondering if you would be interested in being a guest presenter/leader at a Progressive service in Hamilton later this year?
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