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Progressive Spirit
Spirituality ~ Social Justice
Category: Spirituality
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I am the minister of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, Oregon (Portland Metro). www.southmin.org


by John Shuck
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March 25, 2017 10:12 PM PDT

The theme of this episode is transitions and transformations. Here are two people who see changes on the ground and are helping direct them toward a more flourishing outcome.

My first guest ever on this program, when it was called Religion For Life, is Anthony Flaccavento. He returns to discuss his book, "Building A Healthy Economy From the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change." In 1995 he founded Appalachian Sustainable Development and is now the president of SCALE Inc., a private consulting business that supports ecologically healthy economics.

In this book he provides examples of locally-based economies that are thriving all over the country. At the same time, he says that we are losing the battle at the policy levels both locally and nationally. His book is a call to action for entrepreneurs, scholars, policymakers, community activists and all citizens to re-think economy and act for a way of justice and commonsense from the bottom-up.

Deshna Ubeda is the director of Progressive Christianity Dot Org. She is directing The Embrace Festival, May, 4, 5, and 6 in Portland. Similar to Burning Man, Beloved, and Wild Goose, the Embrace Festival will feature presentations, art, music, dance, community and food for the purpose of building sacred community and inspiring social transformation. Here is its vision:

"In May 2017, people from all over the world will gather in Portland, Oregon to share knowledge and wisdom, learn from each other, celebrate, be inspired, and find the tools needed to create and enliven local movements within our communities. Together we will explore sacred oneness, Christ Consciousness, Buddha Nature, eco-spirituality, social justice and the way of universal and personal transformation that honors the Divine in all."

March 19, 2017 07:34 PM PDT

Progressive Spirit is now one hour! (Technically 54 minutes to accommodate top of the hour news). Ask your local public radio station to carry Progressive Spirit!

I am thrilled to have my conversation with Gretta Vosper be the first show in the now expanded Progressive Spirit!

Gretta Vosper is an atheist minister in the United Church of Canada. She is the author of 'With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe'' and 'Amen: What Prayer Can Mean In A World Beyond Belief.'

She is the leader of an exciting community in Toronto, West Hill United Church, that has been under fire from its larger institution for moving beyond the language of the church.

Gretta discusses the work of this community and her own struggles with the larger institution. Because of her theological views she was reviewed and declared to be "unsuitable" for ministry.

Is there a larger story, though? Gretta also talks about how the liberal United Church in order to grow has accepted into its clergy pentecostals and fundamentalists without examining their theology. The result, according to Gretta, is a church that is losing its progressive principles in order to increase its numbers.

In this interview she discusses her review process with the denomination, what she means by "atheist", the doublespeak of clergy who use the word "God" but do not mean it the way it is commonly understood, and the need for communities who want the ethical and spiritual vitality of a community without the archaic language of theism.

March 11, 2017 04:33 PM PST

Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is a pilgrim, speaker, writer, teacher, ordained Presbyterian pastor, parent, partner, and pet lover.

In 1999 he came out as a gay man and it was a pilgrimage that enabled him to be honest with himself.

Currently, Brett is a pastor serving St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon, having been on the faculty of Duke University and North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

He is the author of ten books and three on pilgrimage. His latest is Practicing Pilgrimage: On Being and Becoming God’s Pilgrim People.

Brett directs the School of the Pilgrim taking people on pilgrimage around the world and in their backyards.

We discuss pilgrimage as spiritual awakening, liberation, and protest.

March 11, 2017 04:27 PM PST

Deshna Ubeda is the director of Progressive Christianity Dot Org. She is directing The Embrace Festival, May, 4, 5, and 6 in Portland. Similar to Burning Man, Beloved, and Wild Goose, the Embrace Festival will feature presentations, art, music, dance, community and food for the purpose of building sacred community and inspiring social transformation. Here is its vision:

In May 2017, people from all over the world will gather in Portland, Oregon to share knowledge and wisdom, learn from each other, celebrate, be inspired, and find the tools needed to create and enliven local movements within our communities. Together we will explore sacred oneness, Christ Consciousness, Buddha Nature, eco-spirituality, social justice and the way of universal and personal transformation that honors the Divine in all.

One of the presenters at the Embrace Festival is Gretta Vosper, an atheist minister in the United Church of Canada. She is the leader of an exciting community in Toronto that has been under fire from its larger institution for moving beyond the language of the church. Gretta discusses the work of this community and her own struggles with the larger institution.

Brett Webb-Mitchell brings sacred community and transformation outdoors and revisits the ancient practice of pilgrimage. He is the author of ten books and in his latest, Practicing Pilgrimage, he provides a trail map as to how pilgrimage can be a path for liberation and social justice.

March 05, 2017 12:25 PM PST

Carter Warden is a former conservative pastor of 25 years, now openly atheist. Using the pseudonym “Adam Mann”, he was a founder of The Clergy Project, an on-line support group for clergy who no longer believe the doctrines of the churches they serve. “Adam” was one of the original five interviewees in the 2010 Dennett-LaScola article, “Preachers who are not Believers.” While still in ministry, he was interviewed undercover by ABC World News Tonight and the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

Last fall he "came out" publicly as an atheist at the Freedom From Religion Foundation's annual gathering. A press release was picked up by the Johnson City Press and Carter was outed to his church, friends, and extended family. In this interview, he talks about that experience, the challenge facing clergy who no longer believe yet who make a living for their families by serving their churches, and the liberation when people are able to be honest with themselves and others about what they really believe.

Hear previous interviews on Progressive Spirit with individuals connected to the Clergy Project including Linda LaScola, Daniel Dennett, Dan Barker, Gretta Vosper, Ryan Bell, David Hayward, Pat Green, John Loftus, Bart Campolo, and Jerry DeWitt.

February 26, 2017 05:03 PM PST

Tony Campolo has been a fixture in the evangelical Christian scene for decades. For the past 30 years his son, Bart has followed in his footsteps. Their brand of Christianity is evangelical (personal salvation through Jesus) but with an emphasis on social justice and care for least of these.

Just over two years ago, Bart decided to tell his parents that he no longer could believe in God. Out of this painful and liberating revelation is their story, the film, Far From the Tree, and the book, Why I Left: Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son.

Bart is still in ministry. It isn’t Christianity, however. He is the University of Southern California’s first Humanist Chaplain. He speaks with me about what happens in many families when religion divides. Many families stop talking. The Campolos keep the conversation going.

February 19, 2017 05:17 AM PST

(This is the 52 minute podcast version for Beloved Community)

In this episode we discuss a condition that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. It is a condition that is completely preventable. Hunger.

Why are so many people in the world…why is anyone in the world malnourished? What can we do about it? The answer according to today’s guest is simple. We can end hunger by the force of law.

John Teton is the director of the International Food Security Treaty. The International Food Security Treaty or IFST aims to establish enforceable international law guaranteeing the right to be free from hunger, and to oblige countries to establish their own related national laws.

John Teton lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He is a writer. He has written three science fiction novels. The novels are Upsurge, Appearing Live at the Final Test, and Elevation: The Cave Logs of New Hale, Tibet.

John’s work with the International Food Security Treaty is not science fiction. Instead, it is a shift to recognize in our consciences that hunger is a crime like slavery. It is a crime that like slavery can be ended by force of law.

John has written two articles about the International Food Security Treaty. In 2010 he published in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, an article entitled “The Armless Hand: The Call for Anti-Hunger Law and the International Food Security Treaty.”

This was followed in 2016 by an article in the Harvard International Review, “On the Origin of a Hunger-Free Species By Means of Enforceable Natural Law.”

John Teton is a graduate from Harvard and studied film-making at NYU. He released a short film in 2016 about the IFST called Thunderhead Clearing.

February 19, 2017 05:16 AM PST

(This is the 27 minute podcast version for Progressive Spirit.)

In this episode we discuss a condition that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. It is a condition that is completely preventable. Hunger.

Why are so many people in the world…why is anyone in the world malnourished? What can we do about it? The answer according to today’s guest is simple. We can end hunger by the force of law.

John Teton is the director of the International Food Security Treaty. The International Food Security Treaty or IFST aims to establish enforceable international law guaranteeing the right to be free from hunger, and to oblige countries to establish their own related national laws.

John Teton lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He is a writer. He has written three science fiction novels. The novels are Upsurge, Appearing Live at the Final Test, and Elevation: The Cave Logs of New Hale, Tibet.

John’s work with the International Food Security Treaty is not science fiction. Instead, it is a shift to recognize in our consciences that hunger is a crime like slavery. It is a crime that like slavery can be ended by force of law.

John has written two articles about the International Food Security Treaty. In 2010 he published in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, an article entitled “The Armless Hand: The Call for Anti-Hunger Law and the International Food Security Treaty.”

This was followed in 2016 by an article in the Harvard International Review, “On the Origin of a Hunger-Free Species By Means of Enforceable Natural Law.”

John Teton is a graduate from Harvard and studied film-making at NYU. He released a short film in 2016 about the IFST called Thunderhead Clearing.

February 12, 2017 01:19 PM PST

This is the funniest book about the fear of hell I have read. Actress and comedian, Maggie Rowe, producer and performer of Comedy Central’s stage show sitnspin writes about her three month experience in an evangelical psychiatric institution. Diagnosed with a form of OCD known as scrupulosity she couldn’t shake the fear that she might not avoid hell.

Maggie is not alone with this fear. She took her heaven and hell religion more seriously than many. Her book is Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience. Because she writes with honesty and deadpan humor she has found a way to reframe her own experience of spiritual abuse and offer a path to others as well.

She has written for “Arrested Development” and “Flaked” for Netflix. She co-wrote the screenplay for and directed the New Age religious mockumentary “Bright Day” and is the creator of the theatrical satires “Hollywood Hellhouse” and “Hollywood Purity Ball.”

This is the third of my three-part series on Holy, Healing, Spiritually Disobedient, Creative, and Awakened Women, women authors changing religion for the better.

February 05, 2017 10:38 AM PST

Carol Howard Merritt is an author, speaker, and minister who grew up in a white evangelical church and with an unpredictable and sometimes violent father. These experiences shaped her view of a punitive, judgmental God. She writes from personal experience and as professional minister about spiritual wounds inflicted by the church and how people can heal from them in her latest book.

In Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church, she discusses her experience and that of others who have been spiritually abused by authoritarianism, patriarchy, and negative self-image propagated by a fundamentalist religion. She devotes each chapter to specific wounds with exercises as to how healing can happen.

She has written several books on the church with a special focus on the needs of younger generations. She was previously on Progressive Spirit when we discussed Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation.

Carol hosts God Complex Radio and is a regular contributor to the Christian Century, the Huffington Post and she blogs at Tribal Church. Carol and I are both Presbyterian Church (USA) ministers and it is a pleasure to introduce her compassionate and honest work to my listeners.

This is the second in my series of interviews with holy, healing, spiritually disobedient, creative, and awakened women.

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