Are we witnesses to a major shift in church polity?
10 predictions about the future Church and shifting attendance patterns
By CAREY NIEUWHOF |
Go to: Christian Week
We have received the following message from Rev Dr Noel Preston. [After a period of health challenges and treatment, he is feeling quite well at the moment and preparing to take a holiday trip to Fiji.]
“This message is to advise that I have created a website designed to make my memoir “Beyond the Boundary” available to those interested. It was published in 2006 and has been out of print for some time. I have had a few requests for the text so this is my attempt to make it freely available.Perhaps you have read it and if so you know it provides a window on Queensland social history and also, I trust, through my own journey a background to a quest for progressive Christianity. It is to be found at www.noelpreston.info. Apparently it is best to put this address in the top search bar!!!!) I would welcome it if this word can be spread through networks such as PCNQ and the UC Forum.”
Rodney Eivers, Chair of our UCFORUM Executive, has managed some reading over the Easter break.
Being away from the pull of my at-home office for an Easter break gave me the opportunity to catch up with a bit of general reading. For the rare occasions on which I have done this , over the past 12 months or more, I have been working my way through, Marilyn French’s “Beyond Power – On men women and morals.”
Marilyn French was a flavour of the month feminist writer of a previous generation. Her best known title was probably, The Women’s Room. Beyond Power would probably claim to be an academic study on the tragic and demeaning effect that patriarchy has had on both women and men over many years – it has 640 closely-written pages with several thousand notes and references. I have no quarrel at all with her argument and it is one which needs to put. It does need to be kept in mind that being first published in 1985 the world had moved on in some respects. And yet as the daily newspapers remind us, the treatment of women by men and society’s attitudes even in our “enlightened” Western society still leaves much to be desired.
As I made my way through the book and its litany of “complaints” I found myself from time to time thinking, “Yes, all right, but what do we do about it?” Ms French does not seem to come up with any specific solution other than we can hope to educate people to “do the right thing”. There is no religious orientation. There is plenty to regret and condemnation at the history of religions, including Christianity in their response to the place of women in our culture. The book does not hold back in describing instances of oppression.
Imagine my surprise, then when I reached the penultimate page of “Beyond Power” to find this paragraph:
“But I am heartened by the thought of the early followers of Jesus’s ideas: slaves, women, publicans, poor Jews, Greeks, and Roman soldiers, prostitutes, respectable housewives, intellectuals, people who craved a new and more tolerant way of life; people who were sickened by the ways of power. Of course, if their success stands as an example , the subsequent fate of their religion, which was swallowed whole by patriarchy, stands as a warning.“
Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve by revitalising the Jesus message through Progressive Christianity. I take heart that a relatively secular observer can come to the same conclusion.
Rodney Eivers, April 2017
The Transhumanism topic has been exercising the minds of members of the UCFORUM Executive thanks to Paul Wildman. He has drawn our attention to this very interesting paper in the Guardian’s “Long Read” on 18th April 2017. The author is Meghan O’Gieblyn. Meghan is a writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared most recently in the Oxford American, Guernica and Indiana Review
“After losing her faith, a former evangelical Christian felt adrift in the world. She then found solace in a radical technological philosophy – but its promises of immortality and spiritual transcendence soon seemed unsettlingly familiar……”
“At Bible school, I had studied a branch of theology that divided all of history into successive stages by which God revealed his truth. We were told we were living in the “Dispensation of Grace”, the penultimate era, which precedes that glorious culmination, the “Millennial Kingdom”, when the clouds part and Christ returns and life is altered beyond comprehension. But I no longer believed in this future. More than the death of God, I was mourning the dissolution of this narrative, which envisioned all of history as an arc bending towards a moment of final redemption. It was a loss that had fractured even my experience of time. My hours had become non-hours. Days seemed to unravel and circle back on themselves………”
“Transhumanists, in their eagerness to preempt charges of dualism, tend to sound an awful lot like these early church fathers. Eric Steinhart, a “digitalist” philosopher at William Paterson University, is among the transhumanists who insist the resurrection must be physical. “Uploading does not aim to leave the flesh behind,” he writes, “on the contrary, it aims at the intensification of the flesh.” The irony is that transhumanists are arguing these questions as though they were the first to consider them. Their discussions give no indication that these debates belong to a theological tradition that stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Common Era……”
To read the article go to: God in the machine and be disturbed or challenged to find out more.
Just when I was learning about mindfulness and mind (brain) body connections while doing an intensive three week Back Rehab Program at Wesley Hospital Brisbane, along comes a message about Jim Burklo’s latest. (Thanks Noel Preston).
Mindfulness has been liberated from religion. Jim Burklo’s new book liberates religion with mindfulness. The book and website are windows into mindful Christian spiritual practice for individuals, churches, retreats, and groups. More at MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG
About the book:
Just now, mindfulness – defined in secular terms, studied scientifically, and practiced ubiquitously – has come fully into the cultural mainstream. Now is the time to rediscover it in the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, in the writings and practices of contemplatives throughout its history. Mindful prayer leads to fresh interpretation of Christian tradition, and reveals the Bible for what it is: not a book of facts, not a fixed set of prescriptions for behavior, but rather a collection of wisdom and poetry and myth made sacred by the ongoing human quest for intimate encounter with the Ultimate Reality.
Mindful Christianity is spiritual practice in the service of engagement with the quest for social and environmental justice. By seeing clearly what is, we can begin working on what ought to be. The mystical knowledge of God leads to a life of compassion and activism.
For forty dawns in solitude before he began his ministry, what awe filled Jesus’ soul? To what inner and outer realities did he awaken? In silence, searching for himself, whom did he find? MINDFUL CHRISTIANITY invites you to join Jesus in the desert, and with him meet God face to face.
The Scientific GOD Journal has been recommended by a member of our UCFORUM Executive.
The current issue focuses on the theme: Beyond the circle of life.
Articles: Beyond the Circle of Life; Death, Consciousness, & Phenomenology; Consciousness, a Cosmic Phenomenon; Idealist View of Consciousness After Death; Science & Postmortem Survival; Non-Locality/Disembodiment; Tilde Fallacy & Reincarnation; Theory of a Natural Afterlife; & Vision Statement on Science & Spirituality.
The purpose and mission of Scientific GOD Journal (“SGJ”, ISSN: 2153-831X) are to conduct scientific inquiries on the nature and origins of life, mind, physical laws and mathematics and their possible connections to a scientifically approachable transcendental ground of existence – we call “Scientific GOD.” By “scientific inquiries”, we mean building concrete and testable models and/or hypotheses connected to hard sciences (e.g., physics, neuroscience, biochemistry and physiology) and doing the experimental testing. We believe that in this golden age of Science the GOD in whom we trust should be spiritual as well as scientific. Indeed, since we are all made out of the same subatomic, atomic and genetic alphabets, the scientific GOD each of us seeks should be one and the same whatever our race, religion and other differences. There is also a Scientific GOD Forum available.
Regular church going has been on the wane in Australia for years. Those who call themselves atheists are more abundant in number. And many of the big institutional religions have suffered reputational damage in recent times. But none of this means we have abandoned spirituality or a search for meaning in the modern world. So says author and social researcher, Hugh MacKay. We want to feel connected to something bigger, he maintains, even if we have turned away from organised religion.
In Hugh MacKay’s recent publication Beyond Belief , he argues that while our attachment to a traditional idea of God may be waning, our desire for a life of meaning remains as strong as ever. In his social research on Australian culture, he asks what do people actually mean when they say ‘God’? Around two-thirds of us say we believe in God or some ‘higher power’, but fewer than one in ten Australians attend church weekly. In Beyond Belief, Hugh Mackay presents this discrepancy as one of the great unexamined topics of our time.
Recorded at the Brisbane Powerhouse 26th May 2016.
After a lot of planning and discussing, and plenty of other negotiation, Morning Star Publishing – the Australian publisher of my books – has announced readers in UK and NZ (as well as OZ!) can order copies of all my books direct from their web site, and the books will be printed and delivered locally.
Readers in South Africa can also order the same way but their books will be printed in UK.
This is a significant break-through for all authors who reside within the Morning Star Publishing stable. Thanks to all concerned.
Morning Star Publishing: http://www.morningstarpublishing.net.au/
Morning Star Publishing have publishing arrangements with Wipf & Stock.: https://wipfandstock.com/
Thank you for support during the past few months.
Warm regards, RAEH
Kevin Treston’s latest book is called Who do you say I am?
It can be purchased from Morning Star Publishing
The religious landscape is changing rapidly and many of those still affiliated with the Christian communities are increasingly uneasy about the Traditional Christian
Story whose original impulse was God’s act of restoration through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus following the primal sin.
Who do you say I am?, Kevin Treston offers a complementary understanding of the tradition, exploring the features of a Cosmic Christian Story that situates God’s
revelation in Jesus as the Christ firmly within the evolving dynamics of creation. It seeks a response to how Christians may understand and celebrate the Incarnation within the wondrous evolution of all things in our cosmic context. It is a Story that takes account of modern science, especially cosmology, quantum physics, energy field theories, genetics, globalisation, technology, and neuroscience that are changing forever how humans live as citizens of the planet. is book is for general readers who aspire to extend their understanding of the Christian story and live their faith in the modern world.
Kevin Treston is a well known author and consultant. He has worked
globally for many years in the areas of education, spirituality,
theology and pastoral ministry.
WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?
The Christ story in the cosmic context
Morning Star Publishing
148mm x 210mm
Why have millions of Christians across two millennia been convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the divinely anointed Christ? Lorraine Parkinson sets out compelling reasons why the gospels may be found to have been ‘made on earth’. She builds a strong argument that each gospel was written to make a distinct case for Jesus as the Christ. She presents detailed evidence that the Christ of the gospels is the creation of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, plus later editors. The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus. There is both detailed and courageous biblical scholarship in Made on Earth.
Rev Rex A E Hunt, Founding Director, The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra. Immediate Past Chair, Common Dreams Conference of Religious Progressives, Australia/New Zealand : At last! A book that helps its readers to see and understand how the Way of Jesus with its emphasis on this world, was wrong-footed into fixation on “the Christ” and the next world. There is no bigger challenge to Christianity today than to rid itself of this fixation and from creedal adherence to the worldview that shaped it. In this book Lorraine Parkinson provides us with the perfect follow-up to her previous work, The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world.