The First Job We Were Given

Want to know why I love the Franciscan spirit - and the Franciscan Action Network?
Thanks, Franciscan Action Network!

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Clergy – Please Don’t Be Silent! (but be non-silent wisely and legally!)

If you're a pastor, please read this letter:

And if you're nervous about what you can and cannot do, please check out this resource:



And if you'd like to do some more research, here are more resources. You only have six Sundays until the election - please don't miss your opportunity. Your voice, your moral leadership, your courage are needed!

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A Reader Writes: Left without a Community

A reader writes:

I’m writing to say “Thank you” for the impact that you have had on my life. As a life-long Christian, I thought I had a solid understanding of God’s plan and was comfortable knowing that I was “in.” About 12 years ago, I began to question some of those beliefs. I soon realized that once you start questioning, it’s difficult to know where to stop.

The first book I read of yours was “The Secret Message of Jesus.” I realized how little I knew about the message and ministry of Jesus. Like most Christians, I was in the “Jesus came to die – Paul teaches how to live” camp. I soon followed up with your other books including; A New Kind of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy, Naked Spirituality, and the Great Spiritual Migration, to name only a few.

These books have profoundly shaped my faith and view of God. Your work has helped me see God as a loving Father, not a Judge waiting for me to fail. In addition, my heart is open to love others as fellow brothers and sisters regardless of their religion, sexual orientation, etc.

The challenge is that this spiritual growth has left me without a community. I find that most of my Christian friends don’t really want to discuss alternative views on Christian teachings. They seem to be comfortable where they are, and extremely uncomfortable when I ask them questions that may challenge their beliefs.

Thanks for your note. I imagine that many readers of this blog will feel just as you do about feeling you're left without a community.

Like you, so many people are glad for where their journey has taken them, but they're looking for some new companions.

First, to understand what's happening to some of your friends, this blog and short video might be helpful:

It's not just you who are changing.

Second, there are so many excellent podcasts available that provide a kind of virtual community. If you're looking for some, try googling my name in a podcast app, and you'll find ones that have had me as a guest.

Third, I work with the CAC, and the daily meditations from Richard Rohr and friends also create a touchstone each day to remind you you're not alone.

Finally, you may be ready to venture out to find a new community. You might be surprised that there's a Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, UCC, or other mainline church in your area that will "get" where you are and provide a good spiritual home. There are growing numbers of progressive/post Evangelical churches too. Just a few hours ago, I learned about a new one springing up in my area.

Thanks for writing. It means a lot to know my books have been helpful to you. It's an honor to write for people like you!

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What We Overheard

A few years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a restaurant near our home, and at the table of four next to us, we couldn't help but overhear a conversation about a coming civil war. "It will start in South Carolina, just like the last one," one of them said. "We have a lot of admirals and generals and such on our side, ready to go."

At the time, my wife and I just stared at each other with wide eyes. We haven't been able to forget what we couldn't help but overhear.

That memory came back to me when Southern Baptist preacher Robert Jeffress recently threw hints in the same direction. Then, just the other day, another preacher named Rick Joyner went further than hints. And so has Donald Trump himself.

I keep hearing Paul's words in the New Testament: "If you bite and devour one another, take care lest you consume each other," and James' somber warning: "... Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."

Non-violence is not just a nice ideal. It's the "rough and narrow way" that provides an alternative to "the broad road that leads to death." Blind leaders will lead blind followers into a ditch, Jesus said, and the ditch of neighbor-on-neighbor violence is a deep and horrible one indeed. Those who make such calls should be called out and ignored - and better leaders need to speak out about a better way.

If you're trying to understand why people are swerving into this ditch, this post and short video might help:

And if you'd like some guidance on how to speak boldly but with respect in these tense times, check out these six commitments of common good communication, based on the values of example, curiosity, clarity, decency, fairness, and persistence.


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A Reader Writes: I Think I Get It Now

A reader writes

Hello Mr McLaren.

My name is XXXX. I have been a Christian my whole life, raised a Baptist in a home of immigrants. I was born in Southern California and came of age in the days when CCM had horrible production values (LOL)

I was a Jesus freak in High School, graduating in ’83 and got into Christian Apologetics while listening to The Bible Answer Man and reading books like J.P. Moreland's scaling the secular city. I was steeped in theological arguments over the security of the believer and eschatology, arguing the “ordo salutis” (Thanks Berkhoff) and all of this while not attending a University.

By the time the “emerging church” movement came around I was well versed in theological arrogance. I read all the intense critiques of you and was all in with them.

Politically, being the son of an anti communist father who emigrated from a communist country, I learned the ways of hating socialism and what I thought it represented, all the while not realizing just how much socialism was blended into so much American politics and life.

Then suddenly just by living life, my views started to change. One of my best friends and my Pastor at the time taught some paradigm shifting messages on worship that flipped a lot of switches in my head and over time turned me and my politics and theology upside down.

I won’t get into the details, but essentially, it moved me from a Christian that pretty much ignored the 3 years of ministry the bible records of Jesus life, and just rushed to the death and resurrection, which of course was a hamstrung gospel, to someone that realized it was not just mirroring the sacrifice of Jesus death, but the sacrificial living of Christ towards others.

It gave me a context to understand what the emergent church really was about.
It prioritized serving people over extreme theological correctness. Building community in terms of being servants to the whole community.

It is just a tiny part of the story summed up lighting fast, but all this is just to say sorry for letting fabricated intellectual insistence cloud my understanding of what you were learning and teaching, and thank you for maintaining a gracious attitude for some of us that don't get it yet.

I think I get it now. I am following you on Facebook and reading what you share with great interest.

God bless you brother!

Thanks for this kind and encouraging note. So many people seem absolutely unwilling to rethink anything, and your letter reminded me of two important things.

First, people still change, including conservative Christians!

Second, I am one of those people who changed! I realized as I read your email that I could have written similar letters when I started rethinking things in my twenties and thirties. Like many of my critics today, I had never even read some of the people I criticized; I was just parroting what I had heard respected preachers say. (Now I wonder if those respected preachers had even read the works they criticized -- Maybe they were just parroting something they heard someone else say!)

At any rate, thanks for these kind words. We live in a time when so many people have turned faith into beliefs, and beliefs into "make believe," a permission slip to live in denial about dangerous realities and create conspiracy theories to help themselves feel innocent and even heroic. Your note encouraged me, and I thank you sincerely.

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