Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We Can End Oppression

It looks like there are only 5 states left with unchallenged marriage bans, and about 70% of states now have marriage equality. This is so much closer than I thought we'd be in my lifetime, and it is totally possible that we will have freedom to marry in all 50 states by the end of next year. If we can do this, we can also stop the war on women/choice, heal the deep wounds of racism in our country, establish economic justice and prosperity for all, and even end war for profit. Seriously, if we can win the race toward marriage equality, we can overcome all oppressions, and we must never stop trying to do just that.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How do we know that Jesus was real?

A congregant of mine emailed me an article written by an Australian scholar (an atheist religion scholar) printed in a US newspaper. The article argued that there was no convincing evidence that Jesus ever existed. He asked for my response, and here it is:

I seem to remember there being Roman documents belittling the Christ cult, but in their disdain for the Christ cult, they admit part of the ridiculousness is their devotion to an executed peasant, a real person.

Also, when people make up stories, it is to bring glory or honor. A fatherless peasant who is crucified like a runaway slave is not the sort of story one makes up about one's own group. They did, obviously, try to clean it up by saying he didn’t stay dead, but the part leading up to that is not the story one makes up. One never (except in contemporary comedy) makes up tales that would be humiliating to the teller of the tale.

There is no doubt that we know very little about Jesus and that what the church has taught for millennia is largely embellished and mythologized, but underneath the layers of myth, hyperbole, and spin, there must have been a very charismatic figure that inspired the tall tales.

Some have even suggested that Jesus is a composite character…the blending of two or more revolutionaries, but even at that there is a real person (or two) behind the myths.

Jesus as a symbol has become so big that the real Jesus will never be discovered (and if we did find him, we might think “really? What was all the fuss about?”), but it seems to me an unnecessary and unhelpful stretch to deny that someone real inspired a movement and later myths. Even if someone made up Jesus (like Rowling made up Harry Potter), the inventor would be real and Jesus would be a real part of that real person’s imagination. So, to my mind,  is obvious that in some way there was a Jesus.

Was he on a suicide mission from heaven, part of an incomprehensible trinity, and decided to play hide and seek in communion bread? I’m going with “No.” But was there someone at sometime that inspired a lot of imaginative work down the line? I have to believe the answer is “Yes.”

Progressive, Positive, Practical Religious Webcasts

Affirmative Prayer

Ancient Wisdom-New Thought

Can We Follow Jesus Without Worshiping Him?

Celebrating Same Gender Love

Do Progressive Christians Believe in Jesus?

Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?

God In and Beyond Religions

God Within-What Do We Mean?

Healing From Fundamentalism

Is Christianity the One True Religion?

Is Christmas Relevant in the 21st Century?

Is Jesus Relevant for LBTG People?

Is There a Science to Prayer

Prayer & Healing

Prayer & Prosperity

Spirituality of Free Thinking

Where Do We Go When We Die?

Face Everything And Rise (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

God Bless the Child (Rev Cindy Lippert)

Hoping, Waiting, Working (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

Messages from the Pool Man (Rev Cindy Lippert)

Moabite Pride: Rethinking Homophobia’s Favorite Biblical Story (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

Our Reason for Hope (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

Rethinking Fire Insurance Religion (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

We Are Captains of our Souls (Rev Dr Durrell Watkins)

21st Century Xmas

6 years ago when I was 40# heavier...Look at all that hair (and only slightly gray!).
LU is now The Samaritan Institute, but the message still rings true.
Is Christmas Relevant in the 21st Century? (Spoiler alert: the answer is YES)


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Prayer & Prosperity

Revs Durrell Watkins, Cathy Alexander, & Cindy Lippert speak about prosperity from a spiritual perspective.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

We Need a Little Christmas NOW

For some reason, I see more fear, more angst, more divisiveness in the world lately; and let me be clear, I mean our own little part of the world. In a country that affirms commitment to "liberty and justice for all" and that has spent decades trying to atone for and heal the wounds of sexism, classism, segregation, xenophobia, genocide of native inhabitants, poverty, and brutal homophobia, it is heartbreaking to look around and see immigrants being demonized, businesses trying to control their female employees' healthcare options, businesses trying to deny service to same-gender loving couples (even as marriage equality is becoming increasingly the law of the land), and police brutality against communities of color. In this season of "peace on earth, goodwill toward all," the fear induced rage that appears to be overshadowing the "better angels of our nature" has reached almost epidemic proportions. 

I'm tempted to dust off my sociology degree and rail against systems of oppression, but instead I find my pastor's heart and theological training kicking in, simply wishing for healing...healing for those who are being hurt by the verbal and physical violence that is tearing our country apart, and healing for those who are so afraid of change and uncertainty that they are participating in oppressive and unjust rhetoric and behaviors. 

I support the passing of laws and court decisions that are meant to offer equal protection and opportunity to all people, but laws and court rulings do not change attitudes. For that, we in the spiritual community must speak out and offer loving, challenging, prophetic, and pastoral guidance to help people overcome their fears, embrace hope, and see the sacred value of all people.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of a baby who was born to a peasant class, whose mother was an unmarried and temporarily homeless young woman, who grew up to suffer abuse at the hands of religious and government institutions, and who, finally, was tortured to death by state controlled systems of oppression, let us honor that baby by seeing divine light, opportunity, and grace where before we saw fear, conflict, and scarcity. We can embrace hope. We can affirm the dignity of all of God's children. We can work for peace and healing in our world. We can insist on "liberty and justice for ALL."

The challenges are numerous and the solutions may not come quickly, but they begin with our prayers, with our love, with our optimism, with our commitment, and with our choosing to see God in the midst of those sometimes called "the Other." This time of year calls us to reclaim and live out the message of "peace on earth; goodwill toward all." We don't need Congress or Courts for that. We hope they'll do their part, but we can begin to do ours right now.

Join us at Sunshine Cathedral for our Holiday Concert on Saturday night (Dec 6th) at 7 pm and worship with us every Sunday in Advent (and throughout 2015); and worship with us on Christmas Eve at 8 pm or 10:30 pm as well. Help us be the embodied presence of divine Love and indomitable Hope this season and at all times. The world needs light right now; let us be the light. As the song (from the Broadway musical "Mame") says, We need a little Christmas NOW!

Holiday Blessings,

Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral
1480 SW Ninth Ave, Ft Lauderdale, FL

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner...A Sad Time in the US

Do you hear that? It's the sound of Dr King, Rosa Parks, Bobby Kennedy, Mother Jones, James Baldwin, Bishop Pike, Howard Thurman, Bayard Rustin, Thurgood Marshall, and Medgar Evers all weeping as news reaches their spirit-dwelling that after all that they risked, suffered, and lost for the cause of equality and justice, there remains income inequality not seen since the Great Depression and those who feel their power and privilege being threatened have declared war on immigrants, people of color, and African American youth in particular (though the middle aged are not exempt). The Right Wing take over of the culture that began in force in the 80s has managed to reverse much of the gains that people in the 50s, 60s, and 70s lived and lost their lives to secure. The level of injustice this country is seeing cannot be sustained. Our country will, to use an old and often abused religious word, "repent" (have a deep change of heart) or it will join the long sad list of fallen empires. Hopefully China or India or whoever emerges as the next world leader will leave a nobler legacy. The American dream was a beautiful one, if only we had allowed it to become a full and lasting reality.