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I am not going to introduce him, but I've got to a call to this microphone someone who is always a total joy to be around. She lights up any room she enters, she exemplifies progressive ministry, she has been with PCU from the beginning serving with great distinction as our President and she pretty much never left the board until late last year. She and her husband have poured god knows how many dollars into keeping this going and making this strong. Friends there is only one Mary Ellen Kilsby and here she is to introduce our speaker. I am so glad I came tonight. And you are beautiful. It is such a thrill to see this gathering after working for ten years and congratulations. Richard Burns and the others of us who have been in there, George you did good, you did good. It's my privilege tonight to introduce our featured speaker. I thought of no better way then to begin with the quote from Walter Wink, who writes, "In every generation there is a handful of writers of whom it can be said, read everything they write." Marcus Borg is one such writer today. In a different vein, Barbara Brown Taylor has observed that Marcus Borg offers questioning Christians, should there be any other kind? Offers questioning Christians a way to keep their faith without shutting down the search for truth or you don't park your brain at the door with what Marcus Borg. I doubt that anyone has done more to stimulate small group studies in local Churches than has Dr. Borg. Described by the New York Times as the leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars, Marcus Borg, he has appeared on every major news hour, including The News Hour, Dateline, The Today Show and many others. Imagine that, progressive, passionate scholarly Christianity, on the public media. We have you to thank for that, Dr. Borg. Some of you here tonight have perhaps read all 14 of Dr. Borg books. Could we see hands of anybody who has read all 14 of those books? You deserve - you deserve a special prize and then, of course, he has written other books with Tom Wright, John Dominic Crossan and others. Many of us got hooked on Dr. Borg when we read "Meeting Jesus again" for the first time. Published in 1994, that book became the single best selling book by a cotemporary Jesus Scholar. Marcus Borg since then is understanding of the meaning of Jesus has only deepened, as you will discover, when you read his penetrating new volume "The Lord Jesus The Life Teaching and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary" that ought to become our motto following and knowing that this would be a relevant religious revolutionary. Marcus Borg teaches at the Philosophy Department of the Oregon State University. Do you still do that as well? Holy cow! He still teaches at Oregon State University in the Philosophy Department where he holds the Honorary Chair in Religion and Culture. His students are certainly lucky to have him and we are too. He lectures, he is a commentator allover the world as well as the United States. Join me in welcoming and in an excited warm way Dr. Marcus J. Borg. All right. Not during basketball season we don't go very well, okay. Well it's very nice for me to be here with you tonight. Let me do a quick sound check. Anybody having any trouble hearing me? Those of you in in the back, it's either okay or you can't hear a word I am saying? So all right, all right. Well, it's very nice to be here for more than one reason. One, it's so good to see so many of you gathered together under the umbrella, Progressive Christians Uniting. You are one of the very encouraging signs of our times as I think you've all know there is a major change underway in mainline denominations in this country today. And also, in the progressive wing of evangelical churches, as well, a growing political consciousness as well as a growing recovery of the riches of our tradition, when we understand that tradition non-literally and non-exclusively. And, if you don't already know about the work of Diana Butler Bass, I really encourage you to read two of her books. One is called "The Practicing Congregation", it's only a 120 pages long. The other one is about 300 pages long called "Christianity for the Rest of Us". And what those two books are about, is that they treat they are the result of a massive study of mainline congregations that are thriving and what those congregations have in common? And what they have in common is a profile that matches, what I know, about Progressive Christians Uniting. And then there is another book, and I forgot to write the title down but I have the authors name by Hall Taussig, T-A-U-S-S-I-G. And that also is about a new kind of Christianity emerging in our time and the appendix to that book list, as I recall a thousand congregations that he has located that fall into this category of progressive Christianity. So that's one reason I am delighted to be here, to be part of a movement like at the CU. The other reason I am so pleased to be here is that for a while this afternoon, I didn't think I'd make it up and I am sure how much Peter has told you. But, I was supposed to arrive at 01:15 and have a nice leisurely afternoon and instead at 01:15, I found myself getting on a flight going to Seattle in order to catch a flight to LA with a half hour connection in Seattle and it was pretty tight all the way, and then of course to arrive at LAX at said 05:15 in the afternoon. Praise God, it was a holiday today, okay. So so, if I had more time, I would ask you who you are. Do a denominational check in. But the time is quite rationed tonight. So I have to disappoint myself by not seeing the spread of denominations and so forth. So let me launch into my talk. One of the features of Progressive Christianity or what I sometimes call, Emerging Christianity or even for the sake of claiming our deep roots; neo-traditional Christianity, I don't expect that phrase to catch on. But I am not willing to let our more conservative brothers and sisters have the word traditional. There is so much, there, there is so much about the Christian right that is so modern and that has no roots in the Christian past at all. And even for many Christians who wouldn't see themselves as being part of the Christian right, but who would speak of themselves as orthodox. So much of what passes for orthodoxy today is the product really of the conflict between the enlightenment and Christianity and the hardening of notions like infallibility and inherency and so forth which were not part of the pre-modern Christian past at all. But a major feature that I am going to talk about tonight is the growing awareness amongst progressive Christians of the political dimension of the Bible and of Jesus. Indeed dimension is too weak a term for what I am going to talk about, for it's not just that the Bible has a political dimension, it is one of two focal points of the Bible. One of two focal points of what it means to follow Jesus. And these two focal points are two transformations. One of them is personal transformation, the other one is social transformation. And though I am going to talk primarily about social and political transformation tonight, I want to note that it is also about personal transformation and it's important for those of us who have become passionate about social transformation not to neglect the personal dimension of the Christian gospel. The Christian life is about a deepening, centering in God and it is about social transformation. I am using social transformation in its broadest meaning, the transformation of the world. The humanly created world of culture, the world of systems, political systems, economic systems and systems of convention and as I thought about what I might say to you tonight, I have realized that in many ways I am speaking to the choir. We are already, I think, all on the same page about this. So I desired my task would not be to try to tell you something you don't know or to try to persuade you of something, instead I am defining my task as how do we help other Christians to see the political passion of our own tradition. How do we do consciousness raising about this in our local communities, our local congregations. And here I want to stress what an enormous resource the network of local congregations throughout this country are. I sometimes have said, you know, Christianity has more outlets than Coco-Cola does. I am not sure that's completely correct, but we have a network in place and our audience, those of us who are Christians, our audience is to a large extent the communities that we are part of. My perception of mainline Christians today is that maybe 50 percent vote Democratic, okay. And then maybe there is 10 or 20 who are pretty committed to the political right either through inheritance or blinders or whatever. But there is that big chunk of people who either are apolitical or who could go either way and if we could change the voting patterns of what percentage should we say, 20 percent of mainline Christians, 10 percent of mainline Christians, it would change the make up of State Legislatures in most States and it would change the make up of National politics as well. So that's what I want to talk about. How do we help people to see the political passion of the Bible? It's often been overlooked throughout all the centuries of Christianities, domestication by dominant culture. So I am going to talk about this then under the title of my lecture which is perhaps a bit more wordy than it needs to be. What it does name what I am going to talk about and also gives you a road map of the lecture and I have added one word to the end of the title, okay. So, God's Passion and Ours with the subtitle, 'Mysticism and the Empowerment Resistance and Advocacy'. Two main parts to what I will be saying are one, God's Passion and Ours. Part two, the subtitle and just to let you know part one is going to be longer than part two. So when you realize my god part one it is about 30 minutes now. Okay, okay, so part two is briefer. So part one God's Passion and Ours. My suggestion is that in our local religious communities we invite people to seek about God's passion to reflect about that, to educate about that of course. And I am using the word passion here not primarily in the sense of suffering, though I think it make sense to speak of the suffering of god. But I am using passion in the sense that we use the word when we ask somebody what are you passionate about? What's the passion of your life? And my suggestion is that we ask what is God's passion? What is god passionate about? What is God's dream for the earth? And for Christians, of course, the answer to that question is we see God's passion in the Bible and Jesus. They are our two primary ways of knowing about the character of God and the passion of God. So my suggestion is that we help people to see the passion of God initially in the Jewish Bible, the Christian Old Testament. And, I think, the key to suddenly making the political focus of the Jewish Bible so clear is to show people the world of the Bible. Now, I and many others have written about this in many places, I am going to describe the social world of the Bible with four short phrases. Politically oppressive, that is the ancient world was ruled by monarchs and an aristocracy and so forth. Economically exploitative in most pre-modern societies from the invention of large scale agriculture and the growth of onwards so from the 3000 BCE onward. The wealthiest one to two percent of the population who, of course, would be the monarchy and aristocracy with their extended families typically acquired, between, half to two-thirds of the annual production of wealth in these societies. These were pre-industrial societies so that wealth came from agricultural production. How did the elites of power and wealth acquire that, by setting the system up in such a way that wealth from agriculture flowed into their coffers. Third phrase, these societies were legitimated by religion. It was commonly said that the king ruled by divine right. The monarch or the emperor would frequently be called the son of god. The social order was set to reflect the will of god. We didn't create it. God set it up this way and so forth. And fourth and finally these societies were chronically violent and I am not speaking so much here about criminal violence. I am talking about war. War is in the pre-modern world perhaps still today. But wars in the pre-modern world were initiated primarily by elites of wealth and power for the sake of increasing the amount of agricultural production that they controlled for that was the only way they could increase their wealth. Now shorthand for this very common way of organizing the world is the ancient domination system or the pre-modern domination system. Now once one realizes that this is the world of the Jewish Bible as well as of the Christian Testament then it becomes almost transparently clear what the God of the Bible is passionate about. Let me illustrate that very quickly with the two main portions of the Jewish Bible. Of course there is the third the writings, but I am thinking of the law and prophets which were sacred scripture by the time of Jesus. The Torah, the Pentateuch, the Law first five books. At the center of the Torah is ancient Israel story of the Exodus. You all know this, of course, but think about it or help people to think about this. The story of the Exodus is what the Old Testament Scholar, Walter Brueggemann calls Israel's primal narrative. Her originating narrative and also the most important story she knew. And what is that story about? Well, to say the obvious, it's about liberation from economic and political bondage and the creation of an alternative community marked by no monarchy, no elites and a passion for economic justice, the rules about land and so forth. Then the second main portion of the Jewish Bible, the Prophets and the Prophets are about again speaking very concisely are about the rise, failure and fall of the monarchy. And the Prophets, of course, are voices of god intoxicated religious social protest against the injustice and wars of the monarchy. The two central concerns of the Prophets, the dream of god within the Prophets are justice and peace, and it's important as you try to raise consciousness about this to clarify what is meant by the word justice, because a lot of Americans think of justice primarily as punitive justice or criminal justice. The central justice issue in the bible is economic justice. The Bible doesn't know about racism partly because racism I think was not an issue in the ancient world. The Bible doesn't know about democracy. The Bible doesn't know about sexism, generally speaking it legitimates patriarchy. The central justice issue though is economic justice or another word for that distributive justice. That everybody should have enough, not as a function of charity but as the product of justice. That's the central indictment that the Prophets direct against the native domination system in their time. They have served the cause of injustice and injustice is about the abuse of the poor, the exploitation of the poor who were roughly 90 percent of the population. We find these two concerns of justice and peace brought together in a marvelous passage in Micah. You know the first part of the passage best from the second chapter of Isaiah. It's in Isaiah chapter two, verses two to four. The same passage occurs in the Prophet Micah chapter four, verses one through four Micah has a finite little bit that I would want to include. The part that is very familiar to everybody is the dream of God as a time when the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and nation shall not make war against nation anymore. And then Micah adds at the very end of that passage, they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees. It's an image of everybody having their own land sitting under their own vines, their own fig trees. This isn't about subsistence folks. This isn't about a meager amount of bread. This is about vines and fig trees. I was in my early 30s when I had my first fresh fig. I didn't know anything like that grew on trees, they are magnificent, sweet, delicious, I mean this is gourmet food we are talking about here and its not just my Episcopal orientation coming out and saying that. My point is, God's dream for a world of peace is a world in which everybody has what they need for life and then the last phrase of the Micah passage and no one shall make them afraid. I can't resist the foot note that we live in a culture that plays the fear card again and again and again. So what's the dream of God according to the Jewish Bible? Very simply, a world of compassion, justice and peace. And compassion and justice I want to underline are intrinsically related. Justice is the social form of compassion and compassion is the heart of justice. Again to say the obvious this is a political vision, more precisely it's a Theo political vision, not a theocratic vision, but Theo-political. It's about politics in the most important sense of the word about the shaping of society, the shaping of the social world in which we live. This Theo-political vision continues in Jesus in early Christianity and so I turn to the second half of part one. The passion of god and as revealed in Jesus and my hook here, of course, my springboard is that for Christians Jesus is the decisive revelation or disclosure or epiphany of what can be seen of God in a human life. So, for Christians, Jesus is the decisive revelation of the passion of god. And what was Jesus' passion? It's two-fold God and the Kingdom of God. And when I say his passion was God I mean, he grew up in a God saturated tradition and I mean, also that I think it's a sound historical judgment to say that Jesus was a Jewish mystic and mystics always become passionate about God. And that the center of Jesus message as an invitation and has an imperative in way it was simply center in god. The other passion of Jesus' life is closely related to that, the Kingdom of God. Now again helping people to see what this is about, remind them that the Kingdom of Kingdom come on Earth as it already is in Heaven' and quote Dom Crossan "at least one tonight, once tonight." One of his great one-liners. "Heavens in great shape, earth is where the problems are. The kingdom of god is for the earth and the notion of the kingdom of god is about an after life, is a very unfortunate notion." There is no denial of an after life here, but that's not what the Kingdom of God is about. And the phrase kingdom of god is both a political and religious metaphor in the first century world. Religious, it is the kingdom of god. Political, the heirs of Jesus lived under other kingdoms. It was the most common form of political and social organization. They knew about the Kingdom of Herat, they knew about the Kingdom of Rome and I note in passing Rome did not refer to herself as an empire, but as a kingdom and they hear Jesus talking about the kingdom of god must be something different from the Kingdom of Herat and the kingdom of Rome. And put very simply the kingdom of god is what life would be like on earth if God were king and the rulers of the domination systems of this world, the powers were not. And, of course, Kingdom of God is the most central phrase in all of Jesus' teaching. All New Testament scholars agree about this. And just to cite one verse, 'Seek God's Kingdom and God's Justice' that's normally translated righteousness, seek Gods kingdom and God's righteousness. It's really important to realize that most often in the Bible the word righteousness means justice. It doesn't mean some kind of individual rectitude that makes a man so damn righteous he is no earthly good. I think that's a line from Will Rodgers. But in modern English language righteousness commonly refers to personal virtue of a particularly rigorous kind. In the Bible it almost always means justice. Seek God's kingdom and God's justice and all of these will be added on to you. Then still talking about how do we help people to see this with a figure of Jesus. Two days from now is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent with his climax in Holy Week. And then I think Lent and Holy Week offer an extraordinary opportunity for raising consciousness about the political meaning of Jesus. Sounds like I am selling a book that John Dominic Crossan and I co-authored together. But the name of the book is "The Last Week". And what we do in that book is a day-by day account of the last week of Jesus' life as told by the Gospel of Marks. We are not speculating about what's behind this. We are just saying, look at the text. And that week begins with an anti-Imperial entry into Jerusalem. We all know the Palms Sunday story, Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, what fewer people realize is that, that way of entry in the city symbolized a King of Peace who would banish the war horse and the battle bowl from the land. And what even fewer people know is that on that same day, from the other side of the city, the Roman Governor, Pilot, rode at the head of a large number of imperial troops and cavalry coming up to Jerusalem to re-enforce the Imperial Garrison on the temple mount for the week of Passover which was often times a time of disturbance. It's real clear just reading Mark that Jesus planned this in advance. This is a planned political counter demonstration. That's Sunday. Monday, the anti Imperial entry of Sunday is followed by the anti temple authorities action on Monday. The over turning of the tables of the money changers again clearly planned in advance. This is not what some people cheaply have called the Temple Tantrum, as if Jesus saw this going on on and got really angry and just did it in a fit of anger. Ah, it's planned in advance. And that's a symbolic act like the great prophets of the Jewish Bible would sometimes perform. You perform this action for the sake of the symbolizing something and gathering a crowd and then you speak about it. And what Jesus says after the tables of the money changers have been over returned is my house and it's quotation from Isaiah starting it off so my doesn't mean Jesus, it means God's. "Gods house is meant to be a house of prayer for all the nations and then the indictment but you have made it a cave or a den of robbers". This is from Jeremiah 7:11. And it's real clear in Jeremiah, the people who have made it a cave of robbers are the temple authorities, the elites of power and wealth who have ignored justice. And Jesus by quoting that passage is indicting the contemporary temple authorities who have colluded with Roman Imperial Authority and the administration of the dominations systems in the Jewish homeland in the first century. Holy Week is full of political passion. I am not going to take you through Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but go to the obvious, Friday. You know it's so I sometimes feel one was guilty going around saying things that are so obvious. Jesus was executed by established authority. Christians live in the only major religious tradition whose founder was executed by established authority. We ought to be taken aback by that and of course if you want to extend it, it's not just Jesus, Paul the second most important person in the formation of early Christianity is executed by Imperial authority. Peter, the third most important person is executed by imperial authority. If you think James was the fourth most important person, he also was executed by the authorities. What is this, a string of bad luck? There was something that the authorities quite frankly did not care about in what they saw in Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God in his gathering or following around that. Now I am utterly convinced Jesus was non-violent. But it was about non-violent resistance and this involved in a radical critique of the powers that ruled his world. So Good Friday has a profound political meaning and then plug-in Easter. Now Easter has nuances of meaning, more than one meaning. But within this framework if Good Friday is the power saying no to Jesus then Easter is God's yes to Jesus and to the passion of Jesus, Easter is god's vindication of Jesus. Now it's more than that but it's inescapable that it is that. Address to the authorities in the book of Acts, this Jesus who you crucified God has made both Lord and Christ. A simple summary: For Christians God's passion is that we center in God as known in the Bible and Jesus, that we be compassionate and that we seek Justice. So I turn now to part two which is briefer and also leads to my conclusion, the second half of my talk, the second half of my title, the sub-title. Four words mysticism and empowerment, resistance and advocacy. My claim in this section is very simple, namely the importance of a spiritual base for all of this. A center, a grounding, a base that empowers us to resist the forces that create injustice - that create injustice and violence and to advocate an alternative. I owe two of these terms to the subtitle of an important book by Dorothee Soelle who died a little bit over a year ago now I think roughly, two - two years. Whatever, okay. It's a book I really commend to you. The main title is The Silent Cry which doesn't tell you anything about what the book is about. The subtitle does though. The subtitle is Mysticism and Resistance. And the central claim in this book is that mysticism far from being other worldly or escapist has been often been the source of Christian political resistance throughout the centuries. It's kind of interesting to reflect on the great reformers and much as thinking of Protestant reformers but monastic reformers and so forth in the history of Christianity, I think they all were mystics or certainly had mystical experience. And that was really what gave them the impetus for what they were doing and then to her two words Mysticism and Resistance, I have added two more empowerment and advocacy. These are implicit in her title but I think it's important to make them explicit. So let me now very briefly say something about each of those words. Mysticism: I use the term in its broadest sense and I want to very quickly to name two kinds of mysticism. One is ecstatic mysticism by which, I mean, the vivid experience of God or the sacred that involves a non-ordinary state of consciousness that makes ordinary consciousness seem like being asleep or a kind of blindness and it makes God utterly real for those who have such an experience. And then there is what I am going to call non-ecstatic mysticism. Now I haven't really thought very much about this kind before but I am very much aware that Gandhi could be spoken of a mystique even though I am not aware of any ecstatic experiences spoken of by Gandhi. A non or non-ecstatic mysticism, I would define as union with the will of God. Ecstatic mysticism is communion or union with the sacred, non-ecstatic mysticism union with the will of God. And what these two forms of mysticism have in common is a deep centering in God. And that leads to the second term. Centering in God empowers. It's a source of courage. It gives you a place to stand. It is the source of what Tilley called the courage to be. The courage to stand against the powers to stand even when steeples are falling and the third term, mysticism and empowerment, most often or at least very often lead to resistance to the way things are because you have come to know that things can be different and that the powers that ruled this world are not the ultimate powers and then the fourth term, advocacy. It's not just about standing against, but it's about us standing for. It is about both. It does involve a standing against a resounding no and if we only stand for without standing against we risk becoming banal. Everyone wants the world to be a better place. If that's too strong let me say, most people want the world to be a better place. But if we don't take seriously a critical discernment of what is wrong and a naming of what is wrong, our desire for a better world risks becoming a clichÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â©. So yes, it's a standing for but it's also a standing against. Does this mean we are to stand against domination systems, domestic, national and international? Of course, and it means that we are to stand for an alternative vision of what life on earth can be like? Does this mean that we, as American Christians, are to stand against American imperial behavior? Of course, and this involves minimally a renunciation of the right to preemptive war and it means a deep commitment to multilateralism for the only way an empire can control it s intrinsic tendency toward hubris is to relate to the other nations of the world as if they are peers and take their perspectives very, very seriously. We all know that if an individual has narcissistic tendencies the only really cure for that, is somehow for that person's judgment always to be subject to the critical reflection of others and empires are intrinsically narcissistic. Does this mean we will stand against the exploitation and degradation of the environment? Of course, for nature the non-human world matters not just for our future but it matters to God and here one of the most familiar passages in the whole of the Christian Bible says it so simply, for God so love the world. Not just you and me and us, not just Christians, not just people but God so love the world. The world matters to God. The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. It is not there for us to divide up into some people get a lot of it, other people get none of it and it's not there for us as a species to use as we wish. So to bring this to a close, you know, ultimately it seems to me, the Christian message and with just a few changes in words I could say the message of all the enduring religions of the world which I fully affirm. But let me stick with the Christian message. It seems that ultimately the Christian message is so simple and we have sometimes made it so complex with our tendency to over precision of doctrine and great clarity and all of that. It's so simple. Ground yourself in God, centering God. It is the way of life. It is the way of empowerment. Participate in God's passion, participate in God's dream. Love the world, as God loves the world and change the world. Thank you very much.