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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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July 28, 2017 05:05 PM PDT
Sean Kerrigan, author of "Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness," says that civilization is about the concentration of power. We are at a point now in which bureaucracy has stripped our lives of meaning. We will talk about bureaucracy, collapse, and finding ways to resist. I also speak with Daina Ramey Berry, associate professor of history and African and African Diaspora Studies, at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of "The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building Of A Nation." The overarching theme this week is the commodification of human beings and how we can reclaim and assert our humanity and the humanity of others.
July 21, 2017 04:58 PM PDT
Were the early Christians communists? Roman Montero makes the case that they were and backs it up with his book "All Things In Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians." Roman A. Montero spends a lot of time studying early Chrstianity, Koine Greek, early Christian texts, and the historical context of second temple Judaism
July 14, 2017 04:08 PM PDT
The Walking Dead. The Night of the Living Dead. Sean of the Dead. Z Nation. We can't seem to get enough of the zombies. So what is that about?   Greg Garrett is Professor of English at Baylor University, where he teaches classes in fiction and screenwriting, literature, film and popular culture, and theology. The author or coauthor of twenty books on fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, Garrett (according to the BBC) is one of Americas leading voices on religion and culture.   Professor Garrett says that we love killing zombies for a number of reasons. When societies face looming catastrophes and fears, zombies rise. His book is "Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse."
July 07, 2017 05:13 PM PDT
This is an encore podcast of my conversation with Matthew Fox that I previously released in November 2016. Matthew Fox. Silenced by the Vatican for his views, left the Catholic priesthood in the early 1980s. Matthew Fox is a theologian and activist who has written over 30 books. He has introduced millions of people to Creation Spirituality. His latest book, published in 2016 is called "A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey." According to Fox, Merton was assassinated by the CIA. We will talk more about that as well as have a candid conversation about ecology, human rights, capitalism, and resistance.
June 29, 2017 01:08 PM PDT
Politicians like to misquote Jesus to slash programs for the poor. Republican congressman, Roger Marshall of Kansas misused a quote from Jesus to support his program to reduce healthcare benefits for the poor. This is from the article on Stat from March 3rd, 2017: “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” he said. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Did Jesus really say, “The poor will always be with us?” What is the exact quote? What is the context? What did Jesus really mean? How do we respond to politicians who use the Bible and Jesus to cut aid to those most in need? Liz Theoharis is fighting back. She is the founder and co-director of the Kairos Center for religions, Rights, and Social Justice and coordinator of the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Theoharis has spent the last two decades organizing among the poor in the United States and worldwide. She is the author of “Always with us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor.”
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 


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