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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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June 22, 2017 12:49 PM PDT

The good citizen defends his castle.   Punks, thieves, thugs, and rapists don’t stand a chance against a 44 Magnum in the hands of the good guy who stands his ground.   That is the myth.  The reality is that America’s love affair with guns and lethal self-defense has not made America safer, just more violent and more afraid.   

Harvard Professor Caroline Light explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her book, Stand Your Ground:  A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Professor Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

 Unlike the mythology of Dirty Harry and redemptive violence, America’s stand your ground culture and laws that accompany it do not protect the vulnerable against Mr. Stranger Danger.  Just the opposite. 

 Professor Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.

June 16, 2017 04:08 PM PDT

Drew Bekius was a true believer.  He prayed the “sinner’s prayer” when he was three and was immersed in evangelical Christianity, starting an award-winning ministry in his high school.  He became a minister and a leader and he was skilled at the job.
But a few years ago, the edifice began to crack.   He realized he no longer could believe the things he needed to believe in order to be a minister.   Now he no longer holds belief in God or Jesus or the church.  He is now a humanist coach and is the president of The Clergy Project.  The Clergy Project is online community for former and active religious professionals who no longer hold supernatural beliefs.    In many ways Drew is still a minister at heart.  He is a caring, thoughtful person who wants to help people overcome stereotypes and to understand each other even when they might not agree.   In particular, he wants atheists and Christians to talk to each other.
We discuss his journey and his new mission that he outlines in his book, The Rise and Fall of Faith: A God-to-Godless Story for Christians and Atheists.  

June 09, 2017 01:18 PM PDT

The Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 has provided a number of alternative Christian texts.   They were not included in the Bible. Dr. Celene Lillie discusses three of these texts in her book, The Rape of Eve:  The Transformation of Roman ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis. In each of these texts, “On the Origin of the World,” “The Reality of the Rulers,” and “The Secret Revelation of John,” Eve is portrayed as having been humiliated by the cosmic powers but experiences restoration.    
They have been dismissed by many orthodox Christians as Gnostic or even heresy.    

New scholarship has discovered that these texts are quite complex, even playful, as they provide alternative myths to the founding myths of Rome.  She sees these Nag Hammadi stories are myths of resistance to Roman imperial power and to Rome’s culture of rape and domination.     

Dr. Lillie is the director of the Tanho Center in Longmont, Colorado.  The Tanho Center is dedicated to the exploration of the many discoveries of texts from the earliest Christ movements. The Tanhoe Center incorporates recently discovered texts into contemporary practices.  Dr. Lillie was the Director of Translations for A New New Testament:  A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts and the coauthor of The Thunder: Perfect Mind:  A New Translation and Introduction.

June 02, 2017 02:54 PM PDT

Justin Dillon is a former musician turned filmmaker and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Made in A Free World, a platform that brings together consumers, organizations, and businesses to dismantle the 150 billion dollar business of human trafficking. His latest book is titled A Selfish Plan to Change the World: Finding Big Purpose in Big Problems. His message to all of us, Find Your Riot.

May 26, 2017 04:53 PM PDT


The United States with five percent of the world’s population  incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners.   Mass incarceration in the United States is well-known.   Today’s guest points out something not as well known.   Overcrowded and underfunded prisons now outsource educational and mental health services to religious groups.   These religious organizations are overwhelmingly run by nondenominational protestant Christians who see prisoners as captive audiences for their message.   Is there a problem here?

Laura Everett is a United Church of Christ minister in Boston who for the last eight years has made the bicycle her main vehicle of transportation in all four seasons.   She has found that riding her bike has connected her with her city, expanded her community, activated her on issues of transit justice, and increased her spiritual growth.  She is happier because she rides her bike.    
As May is National Bike Month, it is timely to talk with Laura about her book, Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels.

Tanya Erzen Interview 00:00-27:18
Laura Everett Interview 27:48-53:00 


May 18, 2017 11:18 PM PDT

Contemporary American Society is saturated with fear, fear that is out of proportion to the actual threats we face. That is how Michael Kinnamon, a widely respected leader and scholar in the ecumenical movement begins his book, The Witness of Religion In An Age of Fear.

Why are we so afraid? Of what are we afraid? How can we respond with courage?

I also speak with one of the 100 most spiritually influential people alive today, according to Mind, Body, Spirit magazine. Steve Taylor is a spiritual psychologist, author, and lecturer. We tend to think that spiritual enlightenment or awakening is for the professionals, those who devote their lives to meditation or simplicity or study. Steve Taylor says awakening is accessible to all. He is the author of The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.

Michael Kinnamon Interview, 2:00 - 28:07
Steve Taylor Interview, 28:37-53

May 12, 2017 01:00 PM PDT

What if we brought mindfulness to schools and Buddhism to economics?

Clair Brown teaches at Cal Berkely and is the author of Buddhist Economics: An Enlightened Approach to the Dismal Science.

Caverly Morgan is the founder of "Peace in Schools," the first for credit high school mindfulness course in the nation.

What if we brought mindfulness to schools and Buddhism to economics?

We just might make a more compassionate world.

:00-26:00  Caverly Morgan Interview

26:30-53:00  Clair Brown Interview

May 06, 2017 12:34 PM PDT

When we hear the word theology, we may think we are going to engage in esoteric reflections about divinity and the afterlife.  But theology at its best is not about God or gods, but about life and its meaning and the myths that drive us.   Arthur Dewey is professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  He is a scholar of the historical Jesus and a Fellow of Westar Institute, popularly known as the Jesus Seminar.   He says that “

“Theology is resonant. At its best, it lends rhythm and rhyme to the raw energy of life. It improvises on this world without trying to escape to a heaven somewhere else”

We are going to talk about his book, Wisdom Notes: Theological Riffs on Life and Living

The Ramadan Tent Project is a creation of students in London.   It is an open iftar, a breaking of the fast, in which the public is invited.   The first ever Ramadan Tent Project in the United States was held last year in Beaverton, Oregon.  The students who brought it to Portland will do it again this year.   We will hear about this event and we will hear about the heart of Islam from two bright and compassionate university students, Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Alzubaidy.

:02 - 34:45 Arthur Dewey

34:45 - 54. Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Al-Zubaidy

April 29, 2017 07:13 PM PDT

What is moral?  How has morality changed and how does that effect how we make decisions and evaluate the decisions of others in politics, business, and sex?   In Behaving Badly:  The New Morality in Politics, Sex and Business. Eden Collinsworth embarks on a personal journey to discover morality in a new globalized culture.

Eden Collinsworth is a former media executive and business consultant.  She was formerly of Arbor House Publishing Company founder of the LA based monthly magazine Buzz before becoming a vice president at Hearst Corporation.

She wrote a best-selling book in China for Chinese businesspeople on Western deportment and she launched Collinsworth & Associates, a Bejing based consulting firm which specialized in intercultural communication.

April 21, 2017 08:24 AM PDT

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement along with Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy.  But he was in many ways unsung.  Middle Georgia State University Professor Andrew Manis talks about the legacy of Fred Shuttlesworth.   In 1999, he wrote A Fire You Can’t Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham’s Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.  This book is in the process of being made into a film.

I also speak with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.    He is a Georgetown University sociology professor, a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN's The Undefeated website.  In January he released Tears We Cannot Stop:  A Sermon to White America.

Powerful spokespersons for truth about race past and present.  Fire and tears.

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