Many paths. One welcoming and diverse community.

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A Bedtime Story for Adults

Khleber150x150I never heard much about the biblical character of Judith back in the little Protestant church of my youth. Maybe it’s because Judith’s storyline is not really the stuff of a good children’s book. If you’re not familiar with it, the story goes like this: Nebuchadnezzar, king of Assyria, became enraged at his western provinces so he called together a great army under his most bloodthirsty general, Holofernes. Holofernes, who had slaughtered his way through many lands, led the great horde toward Jerusalem, stopping to lay siege to the little town of Bethulia in Israel, telling the Bethulians that they should surrender or die.

The leaders of the Bethulians wrung their hands for weeks and then decided they would give their God five more days to deliver them before they capitulated and began worshipping Nebuchadnezzar. A local widow named Judith overheard the leaders’ plans and decided to something about it.

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Because We’re Human

Khleber150x150I don't think much about the concept of sin anymore, so I was intrigued when Father Gary Wilde brought it up in his column in this space last week. What made the timing particularly odd was that the topic had come up at a gathering a couple of days before in my own congregation.

As a minister, I am blessed to sit with a number of people in a number of groups as they explore theological, philosophical, and life questions together. Since ours is a creedless faith tradition requiring no particular statement of religious belief, it is not unusual to have a diversity of opinions, impressions, and ways of thinking represented in any of our gatherings.

At a recent evening meeting at church, one of our groups began talking about the concept of sin, and it quickly became obvious that there were many viewpoints around our small circle. Some people seemed to resonate easily with a definition of sin as something like stepping off the path or doing something that hurts someone else unnecessarily or acting in a way that you know in your heart isn’t right. It’s easy for those of us who have sometimes fallen short of the mark to think of that sort of behavior as sin.

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Seek and Ye Shall Find

Khleber150x150As I travel around Venice these days, I meet a lot of very nice, very religious people, folks who seem thoroughly committed to their way of speaking and thinking and believing and behaving. Of course, I also meet a lot of very nice secular individuals as well, people who give no thought to religion or to matters of the spirit but are equally committed to their own ways of belief or unbelief or whatever they’d call it. I don’t know whether the religious outnumber the secular or vice versa – I simply haven’t bothered to count.

Besides the religious and the non-religious, I meet a lot of other people in my travels as well, people you might call seekers, folks who are still searching and still studying and still open to finding the right path for themselves. Often, like the traditionally religious, these people have their own way of speaking and thinking, believing and behaving. And often, like the purely secular, they are also open to unbelief if that’s where the quest takes them.

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