Tag Archives: faith

On the birth of Jesus

xmastree-1In a High School Theology Class, at Fordham Prep, a Jesuit explained to several of us Science and Greek Honor Majors that the word translated in the bible as “virgin” may more properly be translated as “maiden” – meaning only unmarried.  To this day, I find that moment of instruction reassuring.

It allowed us young men to discount the significance that so many believers ascribed to the conception of Jesus in terms defying how every other natural person is born.

Some told us that it was a mystery, the “virgin birth,” that must be taken on faith, but our Jesuit teacher showed us how what is natural was not necessarily contradicted in scripture.

The world is a terrible place if one takes everything literally, does not question the facts, and can’t understand the role of metaphor and symbolism.  I’m grateful for my early faith – or indoctrination –and an appreciation that symbols and metaphors are means that are transparent to transcendence.

When considering the liturgy, we know that some aspects of “the faith” and its liturgical events were taken over wholesale from “pagan” rituals.  Pagan was a term of slander for religions other than what was Christian.

That adoption of the rites of other religions appealed to my political understanding, but it also depreciated what many insisted to be true, that the Christian was the one true faith, although it’s challenging to know which sect of Christianity we’re talking about – the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, Fundamentalists, Pietism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Latter Day Saints, Eastern Orthodox, or Gnosticism.  Continue reading

Father Dan

danielBerriganFather Daniel J. Berrigan, a saintly Jesuit, has died at 94 years of age.

In his 94 years, he saved many lives and souls because he believed that being spiritual meant doing justice.

Father Dan once wrote of “the poem called death” yet “unwritten,” while walking “patiently through life,” and coping with “the mind’s dark overflow,” awaiting “the violent last line.”
Few thought of Father Dan as “patient.”

When they say, “Give me some of that old time religion,” I’d like to think they were talking about Father Dan’s brand of belief.

In sharp contrast, we are overrun these days with pulpeteers spewing forth hate, intolerance and dispirited bile.

The Berrigan Brothers, Dan and Philip, a World War II vet and religious himself, dedicated their lives to non-violent protest on behalf of peace and love and a just society and, in ironic response, were arrested for breaking the law. Continue reading

Benefit concert for People of Faith for Equality in Virginia

Genuine religious freedom is on the move in Virginia. This concert benefits some of that work.


Support People of Faith for Equality in VA!
Friday May 9th, 2014
Doors Open, Tapas, Bar – 6:30pm
Concert Begins – 7:30pm

This is the third annual Gay Men’s Chorus of DC concert in Sterling, VA. This is a night to celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of all people with music for the sake of joy!

Order your tickets now. [Note: the POFEV website is temporarily down; you can also contact them via facebook.]

Tickets purchased on the night of the event may be standing room only.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, is one of the Washington area’s most acclaimed musical groups. GMCW won WAMMIES for Best Choral Recording in 2013 and 2014 from the Washington Area Music Association. Their Potomac Fever/Rock Creek Singer CD recording TOGETHER AGAIN won this year. ALEXANDER’S HOUSE CD won in 2013. You can hear and see some of their amazing performances on the GMCW website.

Please join us for this joyous and inspiring evening of music to hear one of the D.C. area’s most acclaimed singing groups!

Child care will be available at the event. Donations are welcome!

We hope to see you May 9th in Sterling!

Brought to you by: Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Loudoun Out Loud, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, St. James United Church of Christ, Sha’re Shalom Synagogue, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, Unity of Loudoun, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling.

Crude ideas are not the same thing as a “marketing failure”

Catholic high school students protest the dismissal of a popular gay vice-principal near Seattle

Catholic high school students protest the dismissal of a popular gay vice-principal near Seattle

In widely reported remarks broadcast December 1 on Meet the Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan explained why the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage equality has become marginalized this way: “Well, I think maybe we’ve been out-marketed, sometimes. We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay.

It was easy to ridicule the Cardinal’s use of the term “caricatured” due to the abundance of actual words uttered by church leaders denigrating LGBT people, words that were not put in their mouths by others. His real point, though, was that the church hasn’t yet figured out how to make the denigration pretty and shiny enough to make people want to buy it.

Now an editorial in the Catholic Reporter has responded to the interview, specifically the Cardinal’s regret over the “marketing failure.”

The cardinal, who lives on Madison Avenue, is within walking distance of some of the best marketers the world has ever known. If he looked to them for advice, they might suggest he begin with a focus group.

Continue reading

Gay – In the Image of God

Pope Francis

In Genesis, it plainly says that “God created man in his own image.”

In the popular single, “same love,” the Seattle-based rap artist Macklemore warns of “man-made rewiring of a predisposition, [of] playing God …”  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1TBgcctcco .

Macklemore speaks of gay slurs, born of “the same hate that’s caused wars from religion.”

“When I was at church,” Macklemore intones, “they taught me something else, if you preach hate at the services those words aren’t anointed, that holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.”

Rightly Macklemore concludes, “No law is gonna change us ..and I can’t change even if I tried.” Continue reading

Yom Kippur 2013

The Reverend Don Prange from St James UCC forwarded Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow’s 2013 Yom Kippur prayer.

Yom Kippur 2013

Isaiah breaks into the official liturgy of Yom Kippur

The Prophetic Reading for the Fast of Yom Kippur, Isaiah 57:14-58:14
[Slightly midrashic translation by Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow, with interruptions in red]

And God said:
Open up, open up, Clear a path!
Clear away all obstacles
From the path of My People!
For so says the One
Who high aloft forever dwells,
Whose Name is Holy:

I dwell on high, in holiness,
And therefore with the lowly and humiliated,
To breathe new breath into the humble,
To give new heart to the broken-hearted.

For your sin of greed
Through My Hurricane of Breath YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh
I smashed you.
Worse: I hid My face, withheld My Breath.

–The richest 300 Persons on earth (about 1/3 from the U.S.) together have more wealth than the bottom 3 billion people on earth, an INEQUALITY by a factor of 10 million.
Continue reading

Gay Men’s Chorus Benefit Concert at UUCS May 10

Crossposted at Equality Loudoun

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling has always been a great friend to Equality Loudoun and the LGBT community. We are pleased be co-sponsoring this event with them, along with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, St. James United Church of Christ, and Loudoun Out Loud.

The concert will benefit the outreach work of People of Faith for Equality in Northern Virginia, a subset of the People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV). POFEV is an interfaith collaboration that seeks equal rights for all citizens through prayer, education, organization, and advocacy while challenging those who equate religious faith and intolerance.

It’s unfortunate that there are people who do equate those things (!), but it’s clear to most that it’s all over but the shouting. So let the bitter folk shout and whine while the rest of us sing. Hope to see you there!

Young “Strangers” in a hostile land?

My Aunt married an immigrant from Peru who became a US Citizen by volunteering as a young man to fight for this nation in World War II.

Uncle Jack was a hard-working, tall, athletic, and distinguished looking man but his Latino accented English and facial features invited discrimination from Nativist Americans.

Jefferson wrote that “that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

About ten years later, the promise of this declaration shrunk in the context of our nation’s constitution, hollowed out by excluding coverage of “these rights” to slaves, to women and, basically, to persons without property. Continue reading

Theists and Atheists – an overheard Dialogue

Pastor Don Prange, St. James UCC, Lovettsville

Pastor Don Prange, St. James UCC, Lovettsville

Recently, Pastor Don Prange hosted atheists at St. James Church in Lovettsville for a dialogue with his congregation on “evolution weekend.”

You may fairly ask how one can reconcile an atheist who does not believe in God attending a church where the congregation does believe in God.

Pastor Don explained where he thought there was common ground.

He preached, “Jesus and his followers were among the first A-Theists, challenging the Theistic claims of Caesar and religious collaborators … affirming a way of life built around the principles of compassion, justice mercy and peace.”

“Collusions,” Pastor Don said, “between religious and political forces have too often created oppressive realities that abound in the world of today … sometimes contributing to a contemporary spirit of Atheism we acknowledge today.” Continue reading