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ICS publishes a quarterly online journal, En Christo: A Journal for a New Christianity, that includes book reviews and commentary relevant to a re-visioning of what it means to be Christian.

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EN CHRISTO--                                                     ХР

A Journal for a New Christianity © 
Volume 1, Number 4
4th Quarter, 2007

James L. Foster & John Lackey, co-editors

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Publishing data: 

En Christo© is published by Institutes for the Study of Christian Spirituality (ISCS), 204 Busbee Road, Knoxville, TN 37920.  ISCS is an institute of the Peacebuilding Institute, a voluntary association dedicated to the promotion and practice of Christian spirituality through this and a variety of kindred institutes.  Subscriptions to En Christo are free and are available by email.  Print editions are not available from the publisher.  The material is copyrighted as of the date of publication, and may not be copied for commercial purposes. However, subscribers herewith have permission to make copies for personal or educational use or for sharing free of charge with others, as long as the source of the copies is fully acknowledged to the recipients. 

Submissions to En Christo may be made by email attachment only and will be reviewed by its editor promptly for potential use in the publication. Acceptance of articles submitted is solely the responsibility of the Editors.  Detailed attribution is required for all quoted material. If non-English material is used a competent translation in English must be provided.

Book and Article Reviews must include title, full name of author(s), publisher name and address, and date of publication.  Reviews may be of any length, and must include detailed attribution for any quotes included.

            Original articles should be written in English, relevant to the need or process of change in Christianity consistent with the focus of the journal and may be edited for length and grammar.  Acceptance of articles submitted is solely the responsibility of the Editor.  Detailed attribution is required for all quoted material. If non-English material is used a competent translation in English must be provided.

En Christo is published quarterly and is emailed free of charge to any who request it.  If at any time a subscriber wishes to be removed from the email list he or she may unsubscribe by notifying the Publisher at the following email address: jimsandyfoster@yahoo.com.

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CONTENTS:

 

Editor’s Introduction.............................................................................................................................. 2

Dialog and Reader Responses........................................................................................................... 3

Reflections by Michael Hardin on the Authority and Interpretation of Scripture

 
ARTICLES

Artivcle #1, Unanswered Questions in Christian Spirituality:  REPORT ON AN
EARLY BRAIN-STORMING, SOUL-SEARCHING SESSION at Institutes for Christian Spirituality
................................................................................................................................................ 5

Article #2, Thoughts on Reducing World Poverty, by Bob Rundle.............................................. 6 

Series: Global Economics from a Christian Perspective

Article #3, Greed, by John Lackey........................................................................................................12

Series:  Loving with the Love of Jesus

Article #4, Love Is a Decision to Express the Love of God, to Allow Our Barriers to Fall,
By James L. Foster.................................................................................................................................12

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Book Reviews,

Introduction...............................................................................................................................................10

 

Baigent, Michael.  The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History.
(New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2006)......................................................................................15

Brown, Robert McAfee.Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy.            (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988)........................................................................................... 17

 

Shepherd, J. Barrie.  A Child Is Born: Meditations for Advent and Christmas. 
(Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1988)............................................................................................18

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Editor’s Introduction:

 This is the fourth edition of En Christo published by the Institute for the Study of Christian Spirituality (ISCS), 204 Busbee Road, Knoxville, TN 37920.   James L. (Jim) Foster and John Lackey, both retired pastors, are co-editors.  Jim is also the Founder and President of the Institute.  John is co-director with Bob Rundle of The Institute for Spirituality and Global Economics. Our intent is to create an ongoing dialogue, with any who are interested, about the changes in Christianity that have become increasingly obvious since we entered the new millennium as well as the changes that still need to happen.  You may  respond to any of the writers of this issue of En Christo by using the contact form included in this issue.  It should also be noted that the ideas expressed by each editor and by other contributors are their own.  The editors do not censor each other’s writings.

Submissions of articles and reviews and reader responses may only be sent by email attachment to jimsandyfoster@yahoo.com.   Since we do not know all of you personally, please include “En Christo” on the subject line, as otherwise we may delete your email without opening it.  By like token, if you wish to be removed from our “En Christo” email list please let us know.   We do not wish to hassle you with unwanted mail.

En Christo is a transliteration of the koine Greek for “In Christ.”  The focus of the journal is the experience of Christian discipleship interpreted in contemporary and non-theistic categories.  The journal is ecumenical, even interfaith, in its outlook and seeks common ground with lovers of God of a variety of faith traditions.

Reviews of the following books are solicited, though other books not on the list will also be given consideration based on their relevance to the focus of En Christo.  We are seeking books that open up new vistas in the way we typically think about Jesus.  All of the books listed are available from Amazon.com  or Alibris.com in either new or used copies.

Books reviewed:  As En Christo is not endowed with funds that enable it to pay for submissions (or for editors, for that matter), there is no remuneration offered for submissions of any kind.  Expenses incurred by contributors in the production of their submissions are solely their responsibility, including the purchase of books reviewed.

Dialogue is a space given to readers to converse about the issues raised by the editors and various other contributors to En Christo.  Readers are encouraged to email their responses to the writings of other readers and authors of various articles and reviews.  The editors will include your responses in the next issue.  The responses must be civil in tone and display serious intent to wrestle with the presented issues if they are to be considered for inclusion.  The editors reserve the right to edit accepted responses for length, grammar and civility. 

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Reader Responses

Michael Hardin of Preaching Peace, has shared the following letter, written in response to a friend’s request:

FINDING OUR WAY HOME:
A BRIEF NOTE ON THE AUTHORITY
AND INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

You recently asked me to write something on Jesus’ hermeneutic. That one can even speak of Jesus’ hermeneutic is a blessing today. Between the churches removal of Jesus behind the veil of dualism and the academy’s burial of Jesus in historical science, it truly is a wonder that we are able to speak the words Jesus and hermeneutic in the same breath.

Some thirty years ago when I began studying Scripture, I found that I had a lot of questions. Every subject I tackled led to ten more subjects, all of which I felt driven to understand just to comprehend whatever book I was reading at the time. Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of thousands of questions, the questions of the authors whose books I have read.

Their questions led me on some amazing journeys with breath-taking vistas around every corner. Writers from all places and times, backgrounds and faiths each seemed to have a piece to contribute to the overall picture. More so, many of these writers captivated me and I read everything they wrote that I could get my hands on. I could sense that somewhere deep within the questions was a solution. I knew that Jesus was that solution.

I believe that Jesus has something to teach us and tell us about the Creator that we have consistently missed throughout our history, Christians included. It is the secret of the kingdom of heaven: God is forgiving, God is not conflicted, and God is not violent. Jesus’ Jewish spirituality recognizes this through and through. It is the one singular thing his contemporaries did not want to hear. It is the one singular thing we do not want to hear. Jesus’ God is not an angry God. It is demonstrated in the way he lives and forgives others in the name of this God. It (this life of forgiveness) is, in a sense, ontologized within history as the eschatological horizon of the resurrection; the resurrection of the forgiving innocent victim. It is the one message that is differentiated from every other form of religious discourse. Jesus teaches us this.

However, it is necessary for us to understand the roots and trajectories of our sacrificial thinking as Christians. We need to deconstruct before we can re-construct. Sort of like what the folks on the PBS show This Old House do. They take an old house whose structure is solid, take it down to the basics, which are sound, and re-build on that structure. Christian theology, for me, is like This Old House. It is tired, old, worn, beaten and generally in great need of repair. Through the eyes of the folks who rebuild houses and see within a decrepit building a beautiful home that with time, effort and attention can be an enjoyable habitation, so also I think we can do the same with Christian theology. Theology is a beautiful science because theology is about Jesus.

Let’s look at some of the stuff on our theological house that is no longer useful. Let’s examine whether or not we need to restructure some of the interior of our house. Then let’s rebuild.

Using Paul Ricoeur’s language we might say that if the church is mired in a first naivete, the academy is no less stuck in critical distance. Neither one is able to speak of Jesus credibly with any sense of unity. It is the third stage of the understanding process, which Ricoeur calls a ‘second naivete’ from which I write. Since I am neither in the academy nor in the parish, I do not feel constrained by either when I consider the question of Jesus’ hermeneutic. The ‘historical Jesus’ is slick and slippery, and just when you think you have a grasp, he slips away. The ‘Christ of faith’ is a gigantic monolith, high and exalted, encrusted with traditions. If the ‘Christ of faith’ represents the ‘first naivete’ and the ‘historical Jesus’ represents the ‘critical distance’ then how shall we describe ‘second naivete?’ In order to do so, it is crucial to shift our perspective on the either/or of the question to this: what is the relationship of the Jesus of faith to the Christ of history? Must we not begin with the presupposition that as bearers of God’s Spirit we already know the Lord Jesus? What we need to discern are the ways both the church and the academy have embellished the living Jesus with their Christologies.

Christological duality, which is and always has been, the big issue in both the church and the academy, need not be necessary if one moves the question to a position of ‘second naivete.’ But how can we justify such on both anthropological and theological grounds? You already know how I will answer this: by turning to Rene Girard and Karl Barth. These are the two significant twentieth century thinkers who moved beyond Platonic dualism to construct a Christology that is true to Jesus. One did it from an anthropological perspective, the other from a theological one. But both succeeded because they both began with the cross of Jesus.

The early Christians understood that this whole resurrection/life thing existed only because there was a crucifixion/death thing. The resurrection was a vindication of this death that was forgiving, and this life and ministry that was all about forgiveness. In the resurrection God does not retaliate, God forgives. This is the message of the early church. It encompasses the entire Jesus reality: Jesus as Spirit and Jesus’ story were woven of the same stuff.

We also must not forget that the perspective of the New Testament is ‘from below’, that is, it is written from the perspective of the persecuted. This is of strategic importance. All of the complaints that have been made against the Christian churches are derived from the fact that the very church which is grounded in the forgiveness of the Cross of Jesus, and whose texts are written from the perspective of the persecuted, does itself persecute and justifies persecution by an appeal to these texts. There is very little that is apostolic about the modern church.

Michael Hardin

Michael is one of the initiators of a movement within the Christian Church to reinterpret both the Old and New Testaments in a way that demonstrates  that the God who inspired them is not a God of judgment, but a God of mercy, compassion, and justice.  He shared this way of understanding the biblical text at a workshop in Knoxville in October 2007.  He and his wife Lorri will be returning to Knoxville on March 15 and 16, 2008 along with two others in the vanguard of this peace theology, theologians Sharon Baker and Anthony Bartlett.  On the 15th they will be facilitating a day long workshop for clergy and lay leaders on the “Non-Violent Atonement of Christ.”  On the evening of the 16th, Michael will be repeating a workshop on “The Mimetic Theory of Peacebuilding.  For additional information about this movement, go to http://www.preachingpeace.org.    Go to http://www.christianspirituality.org/  for information on the March 2008 workshops.

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Article #1 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY:

REPORT ON AN EARLY BRAIN-STORMING, SOUL-SEARCHING SESSION
at Institutes for Christian Spirituality

Linda Kusse-Wolfe, reporter

En Christo invites its readership to respond to the questions and concerns of spirituality raised here.  Please address you responses to Jim Foster or John Lackey, using the contact option on our website, http://www.christianspirituality.org/

“It has pleased God to leave many things unclear,” theologian Langdon Gilkey reminds us.  Recognizing both our intellectual inadequacy in pondering the Absolute and our dependence upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit, seven ICS board members and colleagues gathered to share our inner landscapes as people of faith and to reaffirm the meaning and the quest lying in the ground of our being.  Jim Foster gave structure to our time together by calling us to personal humility and openness as we probed together our perceptions of unanswered questions in Christian spirituality.

We began by reflecting on the difficulty of communicating spiritual understanding and experience at all.  Some of us found that we had arrived—without our intentionality—at a place where our lives as Christians are lived on a different plane than we ever suspected existed.  Others of us had been nurtured, intentionally, within the catechetical structures of the institutional church which pointed toward intimacy with Christ.  We all felt a pressing urge to “normalize” spirituality—to present spiritual longing and the inner journey as a basic part of life itself.

Most of all, we hoped to author our most compelling questions, without bringing them to premature closure.  Here is the list that emerged from our evening together:

How do we (how can we) communicate authentic spiritual experience?

Why do so few individuals, who having made significant religious commitments, make the inner journey?

How do we, as individuals and as a community, integrate feminine and masculine spirituality?  Is the spiritual journey the same or different for women and men?

What is the common (or universal) core of spirituality?  Is it simply a longing for God?  Is it the apophatic experience? (the knowledge of God through complete ignorance and darkness; apothatic theology only suggests what God is not.)

Are spirituality and sexuality dependent on one another?  For instance, can one have a healthy spirituality without having a healthy sexuality and vice versa?

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?  What is the ultimate significance of having been made in God’s image? For a Christian?  For an atheist? For a Buddhist?  For a Hindu?  Is such a concept even applicable in a religious sense?

Is there only one authentic spirituality, or more than one?  Does Jesus Christ continue to have relevance to other world religions than Christian whether they know it or not?

Our task, we affirmed, centers on interpretation.  Just as we are called into the continuous, intimate presence of God, we feel the urge to communicate, however haltingly, our grace-full experiences on the inner way.  What the Holy Spirit has awakened in us, we acknowledged, is a special perception of reality, one that has come to define life and give us a glimpse of the holy mystery that surrounds and sustains us.  We hope to resist the temptation to reduce the unknown to the known in our lives of power within and among us.  Our affirmation in the face of the unknown, and perhaps unknowable, is that through the divine economy of the universe, love is never wasted.  We found that even within the desert of our secular culture—one deeply estranged from the world views that gave rise to the biblical and other religious texts—this night of absence can yet become the meeting place between God and the individual soul.

We ended our evening with questions, with wonder, and with a sense of the Holy Spirit gifting us with his presence during our moments together.  Perhaps even the awareness of participating in a mystery is a form of knowledge!  And, as Abraham Heschel liked to point out, it is indifference to the wonder of being that is the root of sin.  We closed with prayer and with joy.

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Article #2  

THOUGHTS ON REDUCING WORLD POVERTY

By Bob Rundle, Director of the Institute for Spirituality and Global Economics

Editor’s note: This is a work in progress.  Readers are welcome to critique the ideas expressed here.  For the protection of the author and his ability to build on the ideas expressed here, the following material is copyrighted by the author

BACKGROUND

Several years ago my wife and I first began attending the local United Church of Christ services at the Church of the Savior. We joined the adult discussion group that had just started studying Ross and Gloria Kinsler’s book, The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Life. After completing the book the group accepted the Kinslers’ challenge to continue studying the faith, global economics and world peace connections. This study still continues today, partly within this group. We also developed an interdenominational group to study these issues during 2003-04.

Christians today carry out the love Jesus spoke of and modeled primarily by charitable efforts rather than efforts to achieve justice. I think of these two activities being on a continuum at the national/international level. At one end justice deals mainly with our systems such as economics, government, education and health. On the other end, charity deals largely with the symptoms generated by the imperfections of these systems such as poverty, poor health and poor education. The creation of justice is obviously more complex and controversial.

A high degree of justice eliminates much of the need for charity. Since we are a long way from this, continued funding of charitable efforts is vital. But the effects of such charity are often diminished by injustice. It’s essential that we feed the hungry. But there will always be hunger until we deal with the causes of starvation. 

I think the challenge to governmental and private funders attempting to make this a better world is to determine the appropriate balance between funding justice aimed at cures and charity aimed at alleviating symptoms.  This is difficult enough in medical funding where choices have to be made about how much to support basic research versus treatment of the sick. For funders who are supporting a broader range of activities this may be more difficult. During the Cold War, a Central American religious leader said that he was called a saint when he gave to the poor. But if he asked why the people were poor he was called a communist.  If funders really want to improve the world they must be prepared for the criticism that efforts to create more justice are likely to bring. But it appears that most of these funders are unable to resist sainthood.

The corporation has grown beyond its level of competence. The corporate business form has become a huge success. But in its success lies the seeds of its destruction.  It is natural that corporate leaders try to influence public policy favoring their activities.  But their success doing this in recent decades has greatly influenced the distribution of the world’s resources.  We are now at a stage of unsustainable maldistribution of income and resources in the world.  Corporate leaders were never meant to make decisions about the appropriate distribution of the world’s resources. Yet their normal pursuit of market share and profits has led them to have the greatest power in these crucial distribution decisions.

The old story about two people alone on a deserted island with only one having food seems appropriate for our times.  Without sharing the owner will not sleep well. We too are faced with sharing or conflict.  The United States and other “advanced” economies have the money.  But in their search for continually expanding profits and market share, they are increasing poverty, accelerating the gap in incomes and resources in the world and inviting terrorism. They are also destroying the earth at an unsustainable rate.

If we hope to increase equity of income and resources among the world’s population, it is essential that we change our current global economic practices. These have allowed a few to accumulate tremendous wealth but also have largely created the intolerable income gaps and inequalities we see in our world today.  Susan George’s article, “A Short History of Neo-Liberalism” outlines these practices very well. World poverty will continue to increase without changes.

Our group concluded that we have all helped create our present economic system. We have the responsibility to work for a more just and moral one. A quick overview of these conclusions is in such sources as, 1) the last twenty pages of David Korten’s The Post-Corporate World, 2) pp.249-277 of John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and 3) the Introduction and first two chapters of Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics. 

Reducing world poverty calls as much for spiritual changes as economic ones.

In addition to resources, we are in a struggle for the hearts of the world’s peoples. The United States primarily relies on military and economic means currently to reach its objectives. This is not winning hearts but helping terrorists sell their ideology. One key to attaining a more just and moral economy is to be clear about the values that will frame such an effort. This is why faith-based institutions must have a leadership role in this effort.  Our study group became convinced that it is important to introduce moral values into economic policy development.  But few religious organizations, even socially active ones like our own denomination, appear to have much activity in the area of economic system change. Religious groups are a key to achieving this but need help to get fully engaged.  If we truly believe that all human lives have equal value we need to build an economy based on this.

I have become increasingly frustrated in not finding religious or secular organizations that seem to be effectively dealing with the big white elephant in the room, our global economic system. Most appear to work around the edges of economic justice. Many focus much of their efforts around the symptoms of economic injustice through charitable works. Some use largely negative approaches in trying to create more global justice. Others like World Vision, Oxfam, Bread for the World, and Call to Renewal seem to be doing commendable work. But they appear to spend a sizeable part of their resources on attempts to influence governments without doing much to counteract strong corporate influence. This influence often is opposed to the changes they are trying to enact. This does not appear to be a very effective approach to creating social and economic change. The International Forum On Globalization provides a rich source of ideas about alternatives but largely leaves it to many relatively small organizations (such as represented at the World Social Forums) to create change.  Such grassroots efforts at change are vital but I think they need support from large organizations with major financial resources.

We asked ourselves how a major reduction in world poverty could occur:

if our present way of doing business in the world increases world poverty?

If business can’t effectively regulate itself?

If business basically controls the governmental bodies that could provide such regulations?

It all came together for me recently when our discussion group started reading Jim Wallis’s God’s Politics. His review of faith-based social movements (civil rights, slavery, child labor, etc.) suddenly seemed to provide a key. The model I was searching for (but didn’t know it) is a global, faith-based movement. This could add to the pressure from activist groups on national and international governmental organizations to humanize our present economic system.

I think that broad educational programs to inform people about better alternatives to our present economic practices are essential to create these pressures and to loosen the grip of big money on the governments of the world. The work of the International Forum on Globalization provides a secular model for this. Its publication Alternatives to Economic Globalization (2004) lays out principals for sustainable societies and a just economic system.  This book summarizes alternative economic systems and ideas how these may be achieved. I think adding moral frames to their ideas will enhance their excellent work.

Since we have not found organizations that appear to have the capacity to create large changes in our economy, I pulled together the following thoughts on how this might happen. These are based on our group study and my own research.

A MODEL FOR CHANGE

A. Mission:

Create a more just and moral global economic system that reduces terrorism through a global, nonviolent social movement guided by a moral framework and extensive educational programs.

B. Why This Mission?:

Poverty is a moral and religious issue. What would Jesus think of us U.S. Christians? We live in the wealthiest nation in history. We have helped to create and then tolerate a world where 30,000 children die every day of starvation or preventable diseases in the developing world.  Poverty reduction calls for spiritual as well as economic changes.

The way global business is conducted today is a major cause of poverty and preventable deaths. One of the immense secrets behind all the hype about our current practices is the central question they raise. Susan George (“A Short History of Neo-Liberalism”) puts it this way: “who has a right to live and who does not”.

Poverty breeds terrorism (even if it does not cause it) and terrorism is winning. (See the National Intelligence Assessment released in July 2007.) While Al-Qaeda has regained much of its strength, particularly since the Iraq war started, support around the world for the U.S. way of dealing with terrorism is shrinking.  Poverty also breeds poor health, starvation and hopelessness that diminish the effects of charitable efforts.

Military force is an ineffective way to deal with terrorism. Violence only creates more violence that can increase poverty.

Providing charity does little to change the system that creates the need for charity. But this is the area that gets most private funding. As Jim Wallis puts it in God’s Politics, we believe in a God of Charity but not a God of Justice.

Despite the positive changes created by some progressive business leaders, the required major shifts in business practices will need to come both from inside as well as outside through national and international regulatory bodies.

Corporate and financial leaders have a hugely disproportionate influence on governmental policies (and could also have a major role in creating positive changes in these).

Government policies with strong support from the establishment, particularly economic regulations, do not change much without a movement that creates pressures for reform. People need to see these policies in a different way. (A classic example in the United States is of course the civil rights movement.)

All the world’s religions stress compassion as an important element of their beliefs. There is a huge reservoir of potential support for a movement that can tap this moral sense.

Using a moral-based approach can help to dampen the clash of ideologies that invariably arise while attempting fundamental shifts in our culture. This clash usually leads to a lot of steam but little change. Poverty rates in the United States in recent years are a good example.  Using moral frames can lead to more effective efforts.  In his book, God’s Politics, Jim Wallis presents a picture of how this has worked in our nation. Movements to change our policies about slavery, child labor, women’s rights and civil rights for example were strongly tied to a moral-based approach. As he notes, God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Spiritual changes may even have a greater impact on poverty reduction than economic ones.

David Korten in The Post-Corporate World notes our present global economic system is on a suicidal course. It has created such misery for many at the same time as it has produced immense wealth for a few. This invites conflict and is destroying a basis for wealth, our earth, at an alarming rate. Positive changes in this system will increase the responsiveness of governments to citizen needs and the chances for peace. If we want peace we must take the profit out of war.

Many commendable major efforts to create positive economic changes in recent decades appear to lack: the combination of progressive economic and faith leaders with a vision of a just and moral economy, a strategy to loosen the grip of corporations on governments so the lobbying efforts of groups trying to create more justice can be more effective, a major educational campaign about what a just, moral economic system looks like, changes essential to bring this about and how our present economic practices fail to meet this standard.

C. Ideas On Steps To Achieve This Mission

Obtain funding from sources that are willing to divert some of their charitable contributions or from new sources. 

Create a planning group to lead the steps below. It needs to be a world body drawn for its commitment to the mission and its skills and knowledge in the variety of sectors necessary to carry out the mission. These include such areas as government, business, religious organizations, social movements, unions, economists, other academics, think tanks, organizations trying to humanize our economy, journalists/writers, and educational/media experts.

 (This should be a developing picture that changes with new knowledge and new world events.) Then complete a picture of the changes that would need to be made in our present business and governmental policies to achieve this. (Alternatives to Economic Globalization is an excellent source from a secular view of a vision and necessary changes.) These changes should first be

Develop a new organization to carry out the steps below if negotiations are not feasible or successful with existing ones.

Develop a general campaign to change people’s thinking about our economics based on step 3 above. This may well be the most valuable contribution of the movement to reducing poverty. Basic tenets of such an effort must be that ideas have consequences and moral values are critical in creating an economy. The economic ideology developed with great corporate support for over 50 years has convinced much of the public about the virtues and inevitability of our current economic policies. A similar size effort may be necessary to put this ideology in a moral frame to help the public see its effects and the advantages of alternative policies.

A variety of educational programs and materials will need to be used since the public knows so little about economics. (This of course is one reason the business community has had such success in Washington and other capitals.)  There seems to be a wide range of these already available about alternative economic policies but few we could find that tie them to religious faiths.

            Three areas of our current global economic policies need particular focus:

(1) The myths underlying them (such as the market is the most effective way to allocate resources)

(2) The ways that this system helps to create poverty (such as through trade agreements and the policies of the World Bank) and destroy the environment

(3) Why many are immoral

Such a major campaign will assist greatly in the difficult task of creating a better world economy. For example, I would guess that many business and financial leaders have either not connected the potential dots between their usual practices and those 30,000 kids noted above, or resist thinking about it. They and rest of us need help to face up to this reality and find how we can change this.

From the list developed in step 3 above, select specific national or international policy changes on which to start actions. These may involve becoming part of a coalition already working on changes. For example, in the United States this could mean joining Public Citizen and other groups working on real campaign finance reform to reduce corporate influence.  This movement could also join World Vision, Oxfam and others trying to change policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Or it might select an issue or policy that others are not working on and invite them to join it. In any event, its most significant contributions may be in adding educational campaigns around these actions and in providing financial resources.

Each action needs to be tied to the movement’s vision and moral frame. Such education would usually precede the action. The myths behind the policies involved in the selected action and how they help create poverty may also be included. These specific educational programs will need to be coordinated with the general educational campaign noted above.

Focus particularly on U.S. citizens for two reasons. We have the greatest influence and power in our current global economic system (and hence the greatest power to change it). People in our nation also have the least knowledge about the negative effects of this system.

Create public awareness through such vehicles as the media, think tanks, conferences, legislative work and non-violent protests that help illustrate both the problem and point toward alternatives.

Monitor the results of funded activities and reduce or eliminate those that show few results.

D. Conclusion

Much of the above would not be necessary if we knew an organization already carrying out these activities. Many organizations working for economic justice do commendable work and can bring expertise in specific areas. But from what we know they appear to lack the range to lead a movement such as described here. This effort obviously will require a long-range commitment in funding but I would guess only a rather small amount compared to available assets for charitable endeavors. Funding for charity rather than justice would continue to be much larger. This effort is aimed at not only saving the world’s peoples but also the sacred globe they call home. It can also provide many opportunities for spiritual growth.

Bob Rundle, Director
Institute for Spirituality and Global Economics (SAGE)

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Article #3

Series,Global Economics From a Christian Perspective 

NO.3 “Greed”

by John Lackey

This report is about economics wherever you find it! Research by a Scripps Howard News Service reporter found that more than 50 American billionaires have received government farm subsidies from a program created during the Great Depression intended to help small farms survive. At least 56 of the richest people in the country have pocketed more than two million dollars from this source. Included are people like banker David Rockefeller, Sr., hotel magnate William Barron Hilton, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Also six senators shared more than $700,000 in subsidies over a decade. These people are not engaged in agricultural pursuits. True, these handouts are legal, but it’s still not right! Furthermore, the majority of farm subsidies that reach those who farm go to the huge corporate farms, with little help for the small family farm. Obviously changes are needed in the policies of the Agriculture Department!

And what is the Christian perspective on this story? In a word, greed! This is spelled out in I Tim.6:9,10: “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY is a root of all kinds of evil…in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith.” Those who pursue wealth as their chief end in life are never satisfied! And so wealthy Americans put their hands out to receive that which was intended for those who need it.

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Article #4

Series, Loving with the Love of Jesus

LOVE IS A DECISION TO EXPRESS THE LOVE OF GOD,
TO ALLOW OUR BARRIERS TO FALL

By James L. Foster

It is popularly thought that love is something you “fall” into, that when it comes to loving another, it just happens.  We fall in love with one person.  We don’t fall in love with others. (Or, if we do fall in love with more than one person, our relationships are thereby made very complicated.)  We typically assume there is some mystery associated with falling in love and we often attribute it to God.  How we account for the equally prevalent experience of falling out of love is another matter that somehow does not fit the “providential” mindset quite so easily.

Falling in Love vs. Divine Love

Psychologist Scott Peck, exploring the phenomenon of falling in love from a psychological perspective, categorically states that “falling in love” is not real love at all, and he gives the following reasons:[1]

Falling in love is not an act of will, it is not a conscious choice…

Falling in love is not an extension of one’s limits or boundaries…

Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience. Falling in love is not…

Falling in love has little to do with purposively nurturing one’s spiritual development.

If we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness
and perhaps insure this result through marriage.

Peck concludes then with a speculation about what falling in love is:

“If falling in love is not love, then what is it other than a temporary and partial

 collapse of ego boundaries?  I do not know.  But the sexual specificity of the

 phenomenon leads me to suspect that it is a genetically determined instinctual

 component of mating behavior."

Deepak Chopra cites what he calls a “key” concept: “When you fall in love, you fall for a mirror of your own most present needs. The intense desirability of another person isn’t innate in that person.  Desire is born in the one who desires.”[2]  Chopra’s observation brings us to the next logical question—the reverse of Peck’s question, if love is not “falling in love,” then what is it?  With agape in particular (though I think also with eros and phileo), it is an act of will, a conscious, deliberate choice to love.  We love because we choose to love, not because we stumble into it.

The Implications of Choice

The fact that we can choose to love means that it is possible to choose to love another person or persons regardless of whether or not we find them attractive or desirable.  It is possible to love someone who ignores or rejects us or makes unreasonable demands on us.  It is even possible to love someone who is our avowed enemy.  It may not be likely that we would “fall in love” with our enemy, but as spiritually enabled children of God we have the freedom to choose to genuinely love those who do us harm.  If this is not a possibility, it makes a mockery of Jesus’ admonition to love our enemies:  “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spite-fully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)  It is not without reason that this is often seen as one of the most difficult commandments, but it may also be one of the most essential, being at the very of  heart of Jesus’ teaching.

We are free to choose Love.  As God’s sons and daughters we do not have to conform to the world’s way of response to those we identify as our enemies.  We do not have to “get even,” or return insult for insult or hate for hate.  We can choose to live our lives on a higher, nobler plane, on the plane of agape, Divine Love.  By the grace of God and the power of his Spirit, we are enabled to choose.

But suppose our master, Jesus, had chosen the usual human response to his tormentors.  It is said that he had at his command legions of angels.  Could they have not wiped out the despised Roman legions, the recalcitrant Pharisees, and all those responsible for nailing him to the cross?  But Jesus chose the way of agape instead.  By accepting the cross, Jesus empowers us to do likewise, to actually love those who are nailing us to our own contemporary crosses.  Jesus did not die in order that we might be freed from death or suffering, but that we might be free to love as he loved.  The call of God is not to painless invulnerability, but to loving presence like that of our master, a presence not immune to pain, injury, rejection or death.

We have a choice.  We need not be bound and manipulated by those who would inflict pain or even death on us.  We do not have to cringe in fear before the “authorities.”   We have the capability to love them with Divine Love, no matter what.  We can “turn the other cheek,” not because we do not doubly feel the pain of being struck twice instead of once, but because, our Love for our enemy prohibits our striking back and we can accept the blows to our bodies without in any real sense of being diminished.

Agape, An Expression of God’s Grace

The grace of God becomes tangible to us in God’s Love.  “By grace are you continually saved,” writes the Apostle Paul.  “It is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  We are “called by his grace” (Galatians 1:15) and we have received grace “exceedingly abundantly with faith and Love” (I Timothy 1:14).  Further we are empowered with charismata, gifts of grace (I Corinthians 12:4), and are ourselves  “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10).  And nowhere does our stewardship of the grace of God come more to the fore than in our choice to allow agape’ to become tangible through us.  When we choose to love another, we choose to express God’s grace by his grace.  It is his grace that enables the choice to Love and it is his grace made manifest in Love.  Grace can be defined as “unmerited favor” and as “Divine assistance given to man.”  We receive it but we do not earn it.  We extend it through Love to others though they, too, do not earn it.  In loving others with Divine Love we become channels of that grace which we ourselves have received.  We become Divine Lovers. 

Barriers to God’s Grace

            When we choose to express God’s grace, to open ourselves to be its channel, we make no small choice.  Apart from God’s grace, it is our natural inclination to erect barriers between other persons and ourselves.  By erecting such barriers we hope to avoid the pain of their rejection.  We also build barriers around those people and things in our lives we value most highly.  We are possessive of our children and spouse.  We lock our houses to keep out unwanted intruders and put our most treasured items in bank vaults where no one, not even we ourselves, can enjoy them.  We invest in insurance and seek written guarantees that we will continue to possess that which we have accumulated.

            We erect psychological barriers as well.  We wear blinders that allow us to see only that which does not threaten our comfort or sense of security, blinders that keep us from seeing and feeling the suffering of those around us.  That way we can sit comfortably in our warm, locked houses, surrounded by our possessions, reasonably safe from whoever may be standing without, hungry, shivering in the cold and desperate.  That is, we can sit this way until God, in his infinite grace, breaks through our barriers, shatters our complacency, and exposes us to the unmitigated suffering of others created in his image, huddled on our own doorsteps—unmitigated because we will not open our doors.

            Our barriers, which we have often spent years constructing, become a heap of rubble at our feet when we become Divine Lovers.  Instead of being security conscious we become God’s fools, rashly allowing ourselves to be immersed by the moral, material, social and physical needs of the lepers who surround us.  For them, we risk our own poverty and deprivation.  For them, we risk becoming social outcasts.  Why?  Because the Love of God within us compels us.  Having lost our blinders, all reality stands exposed before us, the sordid as well as the beautiful, the suffering masses as well as the prosperous and healthy, and moved by the compassion of God, we embrace it all.

            It does not usually happen all at once.  As God removes our blinders he also prepares us for what is coming.  He does not do this by reinforcing the barriers.  He prepares us by giving us his strength, his sensitivity and his wisdom.  His gifts of grace—faith, healing, knowledge, and discernment—are given to enable us to meet specific needs.  As God opens our eyes, he also opens our hearts, and that which is needed most by the people we meet—Divine Love—comes pouring out.  We can’t help it.  It’s there and it happens, when by God’s grace, we choose the way of Love.

            Divine Love—agape’—is a decision.  It is not something we fall into or fall out of.  It is a decision to express the grace of God that we ourselves have abundantly received and of which we, as Divine Lovers, have become stewards.  It is the decision to let our barriers fall, to stand naked in the chilling wind, becoming fellow sufferers with our Master and with humankind, and warming our needy brothers and sisters from the inside out.

ХР

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Book Reviews:

Baigent, Michael.  The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2006), 321 pages including extensive bibliography, end notes, and index.  Michael Baigent received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand and his Master of Arts degree in mysticism and religious experience from the University of Kent in England.  It is, presumably, the latter degree which led him to author and co-author a number of books in the area of religious history, including the bestsellers, Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy (with Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh). He is described in Wikipedia as a “speculative historian who co-wrote (with Richard Leigh) a number of books that question mainstream perceptions of history and many commonly-held versions of the life of Jesus…He has been editor of Freemasonry Today since April 2001….”

“Speculative historian” certainly describes the author of this particular book.  Sometimes it is difficult to discern which parts are speculation and which are history.  That Baigent is intent on exposing and excoriating the Roman Catholic Church is evident early on by his detailed descriptions of that church’s sins of the past.  But since Catholic history and Christian history is the same history for the first fifteen or so centuries following the crucifixion of Jesus, Baigent’s expose’ strikes at the heart of all Christendom.  But is it true? 

Much of what Baigent has to say has already been said very forcefully by respected historians and Christian theologians, and, to his credit, he has been reasonably careful to give them credit.  His speculation comes to the fore when he picks up where the history leaves off and he imagines what a particular historical figures  “would have” been thinking had we still had their writings to confirm it.  Baigent musings on Eunapius, a pagan philosopher of the 4th century is a case in point (p. 88).

Baigent’s initial premise that there are, or were, papers that proved that Jesus was alive and well some years after his reported crucifixion is another case in point.  His description of his unsuccessful efforts to actually see first-hand these papers reads more like a pulp fiction mystery than it does scholarly historical research, and it does nothing to inspire confidence in his primary thesis that the Church engaged in a major cover-up of Jesus’ survival of the cross.

On the other side of the truth-speculation question, is the fact that there is considerable extant evidence from the first and second centuries that not all that the church fathers did and said would pass for truth.  There is more than enough evidence from their own writing to convict many of them of a greed for power that treated truth as dispensable in the interest of ambition and conquest of theological opponents.  Baigent does cite some of these sources which have also been cited by legitimate scholars.

It is unfortunate that Baigent’s apparent need to sensationalize his thesis with his own speculations tends to overshadow the truth he wishes to expose.  His case would be much stronger had he stuck with the historical facts based on the evidence contemporaneous with Jesus.  The historical evidence he does cite is quite sufficient to raise the question of what is the truth about Jesus.  That the Jesus we have from the Church fathers is not the Jesus of history is apparent.  So who is Jesus really?  Baigent’s testimony is ambiguous.  At one point he asks “Can we be sure that Jesus really existed?  Is there any proof of his reality beyond the New Testament?...how do we know that the whole concept of Jesus Christ is not just an ancient myth given a new spin?  Perhaps it was some rewriting of the Adonis myth or the Osiris myth or the Mithras myth:  all three were born of a virgin and raised from the dead—a familiar story to Christians.” (p. 74) Yet, in spite of these reservations, Baigent, in other chapters, bases much of his speculation on the assumption that Jesus was a real person, perhaps a Zealot, who was the source of much controversy and not a little consternation on the part of just about everybody—Romans, Pharisees, and even Zealots.  He asserts that “Instead of history, our New Testament gives us a sanitized, censored, and often inverted view of the times….Jesus was born and spent his formative years in the era of the early Zealot movement.  When he began his ministry, around the age of thirty, some of his closest followers were known to be members of this messianic movement, a movement in which Jesus was born to play an important role.” (p. 63)

Baigent refers to “the star prophecy,” a Jewish prophecy that the messiah would be both high priest and king.  As messiah “Jesus would have been expected to lead the Zealots to victory… he had a religious and a political role to perform.” (p.39)  He played this part by entering into Jerusalem on a donkey, as prophesized by Zechariah.  “The point was not lost on the crowds who greeted his arrival” and who recognized him “as the king of the Line of David…” (p. 39)  Baigent also makes much of the genealogies of Jesus which show him to be heir to both the priesthood and the kingship of Israel, of both the Line of David and the Line of Aaron.

Baigent continues his “historical speculations” in chapters in which he asserts that Jesus was initiated into the Egyptian mysteries through which he acquired his teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven, and that he survived the crucifixion.  These ideas are not original with Baigent.  They are to be found in a variety of 1st and 2nd century writings that were not included in the New Testament.  They are findings which have been reported by other historians and theologians, particularly over the last two decades, as a result of the availability of Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Baigent concludes with this appeal:  “Our modern world is dominated by the ‘religions of the book’ – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  We can see that to base truth on the written word makes it vulnerable to all the problems of interpretation and translation, to say nothing of religious distortion.  The danger is that is that books foster a dependence upon belief rather than knowledge; if there has been one underlying theme in our journey, it has been that we need to travel the road for ourselves and experience its hardships, pleasures, and insights directly rather than secondhand or vicariously.” (p.286)

For all it faults, The Jesus Papers is still worth reading, but only with a keen awareness that it falls prone to some of the tendencies to distortion that Baigent ascribes to the biblical texts.

                                                                                    Jim Foster, Reviewer

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Brown, Robert McAfee.  Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988) 158 pages.

Robert McAfee Brown (1920-2001) taught initially at his alma mater Union Theological Seminary before accepting an appointment as Professor of Religion at Stanford University in 1962. There he became an international leader in civil rights, ecumenical and social justice causes. Brown campaigned against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and was a co-founder of the group Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam. He left Stanford in 1975 to return to Union as Professor of World Christianity and Ecumenism, but quickly found his new post unfulfilling. He resigned and moved back to the Bay Area, where he taught at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley until his retirement in 1984. He was the author of 29 books. (source, Wikipedia)

First things first. Buy this book and read it.  You will have a wonderful time and consider your money and energy more than well spent.

Now.  What is in it for you?  The subtitle tells all.   Brown attacks the “Great Fallacy,” namely, the all pervasive and demonic idea that there is some difference between Christian spirituality and Christian action for the liberation of the oppressed.  The former is too often called withdrawal from the world.  Others take ”the outer way,” i.e. being “in the world.”   Brown insists that these differentiations, and all dualistic formulations for that matter, are inherently a Great Fallacy.  His book “…is to provide an approach through which spirituality and liberation can be seen as two ways of talking about the same thing, so that there is no necessity, or even a possibility, of making a choice between them.”

Brown systematically attacks the Great Fallacy, demolishes it, and brings the reader to a challenging understanding that piety and feeding the poor are together one act of spirituality, that the inner life and community life of the faithful are, in the end, the same thing.  Further, in a very well-handled paradox, he shows that neither is meaningful without the other.

Okay.  We know all this.  At least we ought to if we are reviewers for and readers of En Christo.   But no one—absolutely no one—can say this the way Robert McAfee Brown can.  The sheer virtuosity of his performance adds special looks at our own back yard.  The reader’s reaction is, “I knew that.  Why didn’t I think of it?”

The book is suitable for a wide audience.  It seems to be aimed at the college sophomore reading level.  Therefore, virtually anyone who is literate can handle it.  But the content of the work is not kid stuff.  Use it in your parishes, distribute it through the seminaries, sneak it onto the shelves of fundamentalist libraries, and send it to George Bush.

Now for some quibbling.  Sometimes Brown’s writing achieves an overly cute status.  He will once-in-a-while play with ancient history as if he were a stand-up comic.  It is obvious (and is confessed) that his anecdotes and illustrations are overwhelmingly weighted toward “third-world” experience.  His examples of inspirited/liberation-courage are virtually always about those who witness as victims or who demonstrate spiritual power by non-violent acts.  He therefore misses one of the burning questions of liberation spirituality.  Can the politics of violence be a spiritual act?  If so, in what way?  (Brown does mention Camillo Torres, but only in passing.)

This little book answers a great number of the questions which folk raise about the meaning of spirituality:  see “Unanswered Questions in Christian Spirituality” in this issue of En Christo.

                                                                                    David R. Cartlidge, reviewer

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Shepherd, J. Barrie.  A Child Is Born: Meditations for Advent and Christmas.  (Philadelphia, Westminster Press 1988), 130 pages.

 J. Barrie Shepherd, a Presbyterian pastor, is author of dozens of books most of which are deeply devotional in nature.  The book reviewed here, though it is an earlier work and available primarily in used editions, is none-the-less, a classic.  It is also appropriate to the season.

A Child Is Born is an elegantly written prayer diary, created in the tradition of John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer.  Made especially for Advent, it contains thirty morning and evening prayers, each full of hope and help.  The lectionary readings chosen for each day are a carefully orchestrated cadence of Old and New Testament passages.  Following each day’s entry is a blank page for readers to pen their own prayers and reflections.

Amid the frantically extroverted pace of the Christmas season this volume is a shining gift.  “Advent we call this season—which means ‘Coming’—because in all the busy comings and goings, over the next few weeks, we will be remembering how you came among us long ago at Bethlehem and how—in your good time—you will come again to bring all to fulfillment.”

Shepherd (who at the time he wrote this book was pastor of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church in Swarthmore, PA) offers us a thoughtful means of centering, and considering the continuity of our lives in the context of Christ’s birth.  His fugue of reflection, query and petition brings to life issues from both our inner and outer journeys.  Hope, waiting, making inner space in our busy lives, owning both our personal darkness and light, offering sanctuary to the suffering and acknowledging the unfolding miracle and mystery of advent are intertwining themes.

Shot through each page is an invitation to be more deeply aware of God’s presence.

“I would guess, Lord God

That most people know your presence,

sense at least a momentary touch of Holy Spirit

at some time in their lives.  But we write it off

as indigestion, or an excess of emotion.

In the cold clear light of morning we look back

and say, ‘How could I be so foolish?’

so we spend our days in shallows, fearful

to launch out, to entrust ourselves to mystery.

Practicing the presence of God, while celebrating the apogee of history with traditional symbols of love and affection, is a life-giving anchor in our cultural sea of consumerism.

                        “And your call to me these days, Lord God,

       is not so much to wallow in nostalgia,

to break out in a stubborn rash of generosity

and gift giving, to get all caught up in rituals

with candles, incense and the like  You invite me

to entrust myself, to place my story within yours,

to set my future firm beside the manger

where your Son may claim it for his own.”

            A Child Is Born focuses our attention on the pattern God has woven for each of us.  With our increased self-awareness we are faithfully invited into a deeper openness to Christ’s perpetual coming.  This poignant, dandy, meaningful book reminds me of nothing so much as the affirmation of Julian of Norwich that “all will be well, all will be well and all manner of things will be well.”  This is a book to which I shall return regularly.

                                                                                    Linda Kusse-Wolfe, reviewer                     

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Book Sale:  As both a service to our readers and a means of support for En Christo, any of the books reviewed or listed for future review may be ordered from our website,                   http://www.christianspirituality.org/.

Books Reviewed in this or previous issues:

Adams, Scott. God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment.  (Kansas City:  Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.

Amaladoss, Michael. The Asian Jesus. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.

Arraj, James.  St. John of the Cross and Dr. C. G. Jung:  Christian Mysticism in the Light of Jungian Psychology.  (Chiloquin, OR, Inner Growth Books, 1988). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.

Baigent, Michael.  The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2006) Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #4.

Boff, Leonardo.  Passion of Christ, Passion of the World.  English translation by Robert R. Barr. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1987).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.

Borg, Marcus J. and John Dominic Crossan. The Last Week: the Day-By-Day Account of Jesus’ Final Week in Jerusalem. (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006),   Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.

Brown, Robert McAfee.  Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #4

Campolo, Anthony. The Power Delusion. (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books Division of S P Publications, Inc., 1983). Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1.                                

Collins, Chuck and Mary Wright.  The Moral Measure of the Economy.  (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007),   Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.

Dorr, Donal.  Spirituality and Justice.  New York:  (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1985).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.                                                         

Lauck, Marcia S. and Deborah Koff Chapin.  At the Pool of Wonder:  Dreams and Visions of an Awakening Humanity.  (Santa Fe, NM:  Bear & Company, 1989), 113 8½  x 11 pages.  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #3.

Nouwen, Henri. The Road to Daybreak:  A Spiritual Journey.    (New York: Doubleday, 1988).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1. 

Rubenstein, Richard E. When Jesus Became God:  The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York:  Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999), 267 pages Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2. 

Spong, John Shelby.  A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2000).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #2.

Taylor, Daniel. The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment.  (Waco, Texas:  Word Books, 1987).  Reviewed in EC Vol. 1, #1.


Books slated for review in future issues of En Christ:

Apel, William and Paul M. Pearson.  Signs of Peace:  The Interfaith Letters of Thomas Merton.  (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2006)

Austin, D. Brian.  The End of Christianity and the Beginning of Faith: Religion and Science for the 21st Century.  (Macon, Georgia:  Smyth & Helwys, 2000)

Anthony W. Bartlett, Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. (Harrisburg, PA:  Trinity Press International, 2001).

Borg, Marcus J.  The God We Never Knew.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2006)  

Borg, Marcus J.  The Heart of Christianity:  Recovering a Life of Faith.  (New York: Harper San Francisco, 2004)

Borg, Marcus J.  Jesus, A New Vision:  Spirit, Culture, and the Life of Discipleship.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, New York:  Harper San Francisco, 1991)

Borg, Marcus J.  Jesus:  Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a  Religious Revolutionary.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2007)

Borg, Marcus J.  Living the Heart of Christianity: A Guide to Putting Your Faith Into Action.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2006).

Borg, Marcus J.  Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 1994).

Borg, Marcus J.  Reading the Bible Again for the First Time:  Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2002).

Borg, Marcus J. and N. T Wright.  The Meaning of Jesus.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2002).

Braden, Gregg. The God Code: The Secret of Our Past, the Promise of Our Future.                (Carlsbad, California:  Hay House, Inc., 2004).

Brown, Deborah A., ed.  Christianity in the 21st Century.  (New York:  The Crossroad  Publishing Co., 2000).

Brown, Robert McAfee.  Kairos:  Three Prophetic Challenges to the Church.  (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).

Delos, Andrew C.  Myths We Live By:  From the Times of Jesus and Paul. (2006).

Dorrien, Gary.  Soul in Society: The Making and Renewal of Social Christianity.   (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1995).

Duquesne, Jacques.  Jesus: An Unconventional Biography. (Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publications, 1997)

Ehrman, Bart D.  Lost Christianities:  The Battles for Scripture and Faiths We Never  Knew.  (Oxford/New York:  Oxford University Press, 2003).

Ehrman, Bart D.  Lost Scriptures:  Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament.  (Oxford/New York:  Oxford University Press, 2003).

Ehrman, Bart D.  Misquoting Jesus:  The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and              Why.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2005, 2007).

Evans, Craig.  Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels.   (Intervarsity Press, 2006).

Feather, Robert.   The Secret Initiation of Jesus at Qumran: The Essene Mysteries of John the Baptist.  (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2005)

Forsthoefel, Thomas A.  Soulsong:  Seeking Holiness, Coming Home.  (Maryknoll,  NY:  Orbis Books, 2006).

Fox, Matthew.  One River, Many Wells:  Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths.  (New York:  Tarcher/Penguin, 2000).

Friedman, Richard Elliott.  The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery.  (Boston:                    Little, Brown & Company, 1995).

Funk, Robert W.  Honest to Jesus:  Jesus for a New Millennium.  (New York:  Harper                San Francisco, 1996).

Gallagher, Vincent A.   The True Cost of Low Prices:  The Violence of Globalization.    (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006).

Griffith-Jones, Robin.  The Four Witnesses: The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2000).

Hamilton, William.  A Quest for the Post-Historical Jesus.  (New York: Continuum,                       1994).

Harpur, Tom.  The Pagan Christ:  Recovering the Lost Light.  (Toronto:  Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004).

Hendricks, Obery M., Jr.  The Politics of Jesus:  Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted.  (New York: Doubleday, 2006).

Horsley, Richard A.  Jesus and Empire:  The Kingdom of God and the New World  Disorder.  (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).

Jenkins, Philip.  The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.  (Oxford/New York:  Oxford University Press, 2002).

Jersak, Brad & Michael Hardin.  Stricken by God?: NonViolent Identification & the Victory of Christ.  (Abbotsford, British Columbia:  Fresh Wind Press, 2007).  

Krosney, Herbert and Bart D. Ehrman.  The Lost Gospel:  The Quest for the Gospel                   of Judas Iscariot. (Washington, D.C.:  National Geographic, 2006).

Markides, Kyriacos C.  Riding with the Lion:  In Search of Mystical Christianity. (New York: Viking Penguin, 1994)

McLaren, Brian D.  The Secret Message of Jesus:  Uncovering the Truth that Could  Change Everything.  (Nashville, TN:  W Publishing Group, 2006).

Nelson-Pallmeyer, Jack.  Jesus Against Christianity:  Reclaiming the Missing Jesus.  (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2001).

Nolan, Albert.  Jesus Today:  A Spirituality of Radical Freedom.  (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2006).

Pagels, Elaine.  The Gnostic Paul:  Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters.  (Philadelphia, PA: Trinity Press International, 1992).

 Ranke-Heinemann, Uta.  Putting Away Childish Things:  The Virgin Birth, the Empty Tomb, and Other Fairy Tales You Don’t Need to Believe to Have a Living Faith.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 1994).

Riley, Gregory J.  One Jesus, Many Christs:  How Jesus Inspired Not One True Christianity, but Many.  (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc, 1997).

Riley, Gregory J.  The River of God:  A New History of Christian Origins.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2001).

Schonfield, Hugh.  The Essene Odyssey:  The Mystery of the True Teacher & the Essene Impact on the Shaping of Human Destiny.  (Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1993).

Spong, John Shelby.  Jesus for the Non-Religious.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2007).

Spong, John Shelby.  Why Christianity Must Change or Die.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 1999).

Thiede, Carsten Peter & Matthew d’Ancona. The Quest for the True Cross.  (NewYork:   Palgrave, 2001).

Thiering, Barbara.  Jesus of the Apocalypse:  The Life of Jesus After the Crucifixion.  (New York:  Doubleday, 1993).

Thiering, Barbara.  Jesus the Man:  Decoding the Real Story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  (New York:  Atria Books, 2006).

Vermes, Geza.  The Authentic Gospel of Jesus.  (New York: Penguin Books, 2004).

Vermes, Geza.  The Changing Faces of Jesus.  (New York: Penguin Compass, 2002).

Wallis, Jim.  The Soul of Politics:  Beyond “Religious Right” and “Secular Left”.                    (Harvest Book, 1995)

Wallis, Jim.  The Soul of Politics:  A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change.  (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 1994).

Ward, Keith.  Re-thinking Christianity.  (Oxford: Oneworld Press, 2007

Wells, G. A.  The Jesus Myth.   (Chicago:  Open Court, 1999).

White, L. Michael.  From Jesus to Christianity:  How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith.  (New York:  Harper San Francisco, 2004)

Wills, Garry.  What Jesus Meant.  (New York:  Penguin Viking, 2006).

Wink, Walter.  When the Powers Fall:  Reconciliation in the Healing of Nations.                       (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1998).

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Wright, Tom.  The Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary (Grand                     Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).

Appendix:

WORLD CITIZENSHIP CREED

As a citizen of the world...

I BELIEVE in the dignity of all humanity, that each person is a being of supreme worth.

I BELIEVE in the wholeness of the human race, undivided by economic, cultural, racial, sexual or national differences.

 I BELIEVE in the stewardship of life and resources to the end that all may mutually benefit from the earth's bounty and that no person may have to go without food or shelter.

I BELIEVE in the primacy of human relationships as a person committed and responsible to other persons, regardless of their economic status, race, creed or nationality.

I BELIEVE in the global community, interdependent and mutually responsible for our physical and social environments.

I BELIEVE that we are One World and affirm that I am a citizen of this world. My allegiance to it and its people, my brothers and sisters, is primary over all other political entities.

I AM, therefore, committed to the promotion and care of the whole of humanity without partiality or prejudice and with such resources as I have at my command, both within and without.

I HEREWITH AFFIRM that I wish, as much as I possibly can, to base my actions on my beliefs and thus contribute to a world where justice and compassion rule and where greed and hatred are diminished.

ХР

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[1]  Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp.  89-90.

 [2]  Deepak Chopra, The Path to Love: Spiritual Strategies for Healing (New York: Harmony Books, 1997) p. 102.

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