Unbelievable: A Conversation with Critic of Christianity, Bishop John Shelby Spong

Bishop John Shelby Spong has been on the leading edge of progressive Christianity.

Over the decades he has shared his own honest journey with faith, doubt, and social activism as an Episcopal priest, Bishop, and author. Some of his many books include: Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, and Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile.

He is the author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today.

This conversation with Bishop Spong is the fourth of five interviews in my series, Revisioning Christianity.

Already we heard from John Dominic CrossanResurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East kept the Original Easter Vision,

Bart Ehrman, author of The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

and David SkrbinaThe Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years.

Next week, I speak with Angela Yarber about the Holy Women Icons Project.

All of those interviews are available on podcast at Progressive Spirit.

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Why Librarians (and Others Who Fight for Free Speech) Will Save Us

The rising threat to free speech, Muslim-Christian dialogue, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.

John Shuck’s guests include Jeremy Rothe-Kushel. Nicole Correri, and Brett Webb-Mitchel.

**I will also be speaking with Lyn Neeley about the action Saturday in Portland Against U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad.**

Saturday, April 14, 1 PM, Rally: Waterfront Park, Battleship Memorial (Naito pkwy, Oak & Pine). March to Saturday Market.

Jeremy Roche-KushelNicole Correribrett+webb-mitchell-for+web

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel talks about being arrested in a library for simply exercising his free speech rights. Charges against him eventually were dropped. The librarian who defended him also was arrested, injured, and ultimately, acquitted.  We will discuss free speech and public spaces.

Nicole Correri is the pre-eminent Shia speaker in North America. She will be talking about the legacy of Imam Husayn and her work in Muslim-Christian relations.

Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian minister and pastor of Community of the Pilgrims Presbyterian Church in Portland. He has just been named the LBGTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Bios:

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel has a background in politics – from local to international, officeholder to activist – with experience in community organizing, mediajamming, documentary journalism and consensus-building in deep politics, economics and ecologics. Jeremy aims to coalesce a partisan-transcendent and permaculturally-informed #FullSpectrumPopulist #IntegralPolitics from the #RadicalMiddle with a #WeThePeoplePlatform and #CoalitionCabinet.

He is working on a documentary project titled “September Eleventh Uncoverage” based on a decade of his investigative research, activism and experience of covering and uncovering the 9/11 cover-up.

Rothe-Kushel has put public figures across the political spectrum “on the record” about vital issues that are often controversial and always emancipatory. Some of his journalistic encounters include Michael Hayden, John Yoo, Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Mike Pompeo, Kris Kobach, Ron Paul, Alex Jones, Jay Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Jill Stein and Amy Goodman.

Jeremy has a working background in permaculture design and implementation, and future-roots music production, performance and education.  While at Williams College completing his B.A. in Religion, he founded and over the next decade taught an original approach to musical education called “HipHop Empowerment”, with students of diverse ages and backgrounds from the Bronx to Boston, Southern Vermont to South Los Angeles.

Although he believes that well mineralized and microbialized, high-carbon humus might help solve most humanity’s problems, Jeremy currently sees that the “invisible domain” of politics, culture, multimedia, law, deliberative deep democracy and cooperative startup economics contains key elements to assemble and strategic means necessary to that ‘soilutionary’ end.

You can hear Jeremy on No Lies Radio and on the Pacifica Radio Network: False Flag Weekly News and Antedote.

Nicole Correri, the preeminent female Shia speaker in North America, considers herself a student of Islam and a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). Before graduating with Honors in M. Ed. in Counseling from George Mason University, she received her B.A. in Psychology, Minor in Early Childhood Education from George Washington University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She is a member of numerous academic honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa.

Nicole is a powerful public speaker who motivates her audience to embody Islam in practical, relevant, and meaningful ways.  With her solid academic background and passion for the religion, she brings a unique perspective to her audience with the goals of inspiration, education, and transformation.  Her work stems out of the gap she felt and observed for the English speaking Muslims in the West to make sense of religion in their context and  lived realities.  She is interested in an intellectual and inspirational approach to faith and articulates a practical theology with a sensibility for social, gender, and ethical justice.  Nicole is also committed to inter and intra-faith work, cultivating our shared humanity and bringing people together for the common good.  She continues to study Arabic with the Fawakih Institute since 2012 and as of Spring 2016 will be finishing up her Master’s degree in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary and has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Religion Department at Boston University.

Brett Webb-Mitchell , LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church

He was an assistant professor of Christian nurture at United Methodist founded Duke Divinity School and now serves as an ordained pastor serving Community of Pilgrims Presbyterian Church in Portland. In addition to this, he’s written several books on the topics of human sexuality, Christian growth and what it means to be a gay parent. Book titles include: “Practicing Pilgrimage: Beyond Accessibility” and “Follow Me: Christian Growth on the Pilgrim’s Way.” Webb-Mitchell and his partner, Dan, have been together for 22 years, have two adult children and one grandchild on the way.

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The Jesus Hoax: A Conversation with David Skrbina

Dr. David Skrbina makes the case that Christianity started as a hoax by St. Paul:

“Jesus of Nazareth is one of the most famous men in history.  There are good reasons to believe that he walked the earth some two thousand years ago, and was eventually crucified.

But what about Jesus Christ, son of God?  What if he never existed?  What if the divine, virgin-born, resurrected Jesus Christ was a myth, a lie—even a hoax?  That would have huge implications for modern-day Christianity; it would mean that there is a gigantic falsehood at the core of the religion of some two billion people.

In this book, Dr. David Skrbina presents a profound and stunning theory:  that St. Paul and a band of friends constructed a ‘Jesus hoax.’  They took a kernel of truth based on Jesus, the man, and turned him into the divine savior of humanity.  They did so as a way to strike back at the hated Roman Empire, and to undermine its strength among the common people.”

That is from the back cover of The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years, by Dr. David Skrbina.

This is the third part of series on Revisioning Christianity. Different scholars bring different views to help us understand the history of Christianity and its future. How did Christianity become empire’s religion? Is it believable today? Was it ever believable?

Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice? Or is it the result of a malicious hoax and a bad idea?

John Shuck’s five guests include

1) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

2) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

3) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and this week,

5) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

Dr. David Skrbina is a senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, where he’s taught since 2003.  His areas of expertise are philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, and history of religion. Professor Skrbina’s books include Panpsychism in the West, The Metaphysics of Technology and Mind that Abides.

Professor Skrbina corresponded extensively with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and in 2010 published Technological Slavery. This was the first book written by Ted Kaczynski.  It contains the only corrected version of his manifesto, five previously unpublished essays, and about 100 pages of letters to Dr. Skrbina.

Dr. Skrbina is a pioneer in eco-philosophy encompassing ethics, metaphysics, and cosmology and is Deputy Director of the Eco-Philosophy Center. He ran for Lieutenant Governor for the state of Michigan in 2006 with the Green Party. He has a master’s degree in Mathematics and a Ph. D. In philosophy.

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The Triumph of Christianity: A Conversation with Bart Ehrman

Bart Ehrman asks how did a religion that began with a small group of illiterate day laborers become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire in just three centuries? What was gained and what was lost when the Roman Empire became the Christian Roman Empire?

This is the second part of series on Revisioning Christianity. Different scholars bring different views to help us understand the history of Christianity and its future. How did Christianity become empire’s religion? Was Christianity a hoax? Is it believable today? Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice?

John Shuck’s five guests include

1) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

2) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

3) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and this week,

5) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

Bart Ehrman is a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity. He is the author of more than 30 books and is Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has been on my program three times previously. Previously we discussed his books, Did Jesus Exist? Jesus Before the Gospels, and How Jesus Became God. Today we explore the question, “How did Christianity triumph?” His book is The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World.

Resisting Empire By Resurrecting Easter: A Conversation with John Dominic Crossan

John Shuck begins a five-part series on Revisioning Christianity. How did Christianity triumph? Was it a hoax? Is it unbelievable? Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice?

My five guests include:

1) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

2) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

3) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and starting us off,

5) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

Professor John Dominic Crossan is regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time. He is the author of 30 or so books including his hugely influential, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant.

This is the third time Professor Crossan has been on Progressive Spirit. Previously on this show we discussed his books, The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus, and How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis Through Revelation.

In this episode, we discuss how the vision of Easter as depicted in the Eastern iconography of Anastasis “rising up” symbolizes non-violent resistance to empire.

The Real Causes and Solutions to Depression: A Conversation with Johann Hari

Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and took anti-depressants as a teenager because he was told that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. He went on a quest to see if this is really the case. In his book,  Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions, he discusses that journey. He interviewed many social scientists who are uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today not brain chemistry.

Johann Hari is a New York Times best-selling author. His book, Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugshas been translated into 15 languages and is currently being adapted into a major Hollywood film, and into a non-fiction documentary series.

He is one of the most-viewed TED talkers of all time: his talk, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong’, has (along with the animation based on it) been viewed more than 20 million times.

He has written over the past seven years for some of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the Spectator, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Melbourne Age, and Politico. He has also appeared on leading TV shows, including HBO’s Realtime With Bill Maher.

He was twice named ‘National Newspaper Journalist of the Year’ by Amnesty International. He has also been named ‘Cultural Commentator of the Year’ and ‘Environmental Commentator of the Year’ at the Comment Awards.

PS 108 Hari Photo

I Will Not Fear: Melba Beals of the Little Rock Nine

In 1957, Melba Patillo Beals, was one of nine African-American high school students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She became a journalist, professor, author, and at the age of 52 adopted twin sons. In her book, I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire, she tells her life story and how the faith she received from her grandmother grew and became her source of strength and inspiration.

In the interview, she takes us back to Little Rock in 1957. She recounts the hostility of the white mob, the overt and violent racism she encountered, and the ‘angels’ who helped her along the way.

PS 107 Melba photo