Iranian Protests – Hope for Religious and Social Harmony?

While the uprising in Iran seems to be mostly driven by economic factors, the significance of the events for the nations Christians and other repressed groups cannot be overlooked. As protesters voice their disapproval/frustration with conditions under the Islamic regime, can we be hopeful that this is the beginning of a movement that will bring improvement for a long-suffering part of the world?

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What is the Truth?

what is the truth about who I am and who God is? What do you believe is true in the Bible stories of Jesus’ birth; what do you doubt; and what do you not believe?

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Secular Christmas In America

This week, with help from Chris Wiant, we explore the origin of the secular Christmas celebration in America and perhaps elsewhere. Questions What are some childhood memories of Christmas? Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition? How important is it to include the “Christian” meaning of Christmas in our celebration? Of how much use is […]

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Universal Christmas?

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas in comfort, how do we relate to those who are suffering at this time (and all times) of the year? How do we suppose those who are suffering feel about our Christmas celebration? What is there to be learned from the way we celebrate Christmas and the circumstance in […]

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Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays – What Does Christmas Mean?

Tis the season. I guess we have Starbucks to thank. Which do we say? Which do we prefer to hear? Why do we debate this? Is Christmas and/or Christianity under attack? How does our response to this issue reflect on us as Christians? How can we bring more Christ to Christmas and more Holy to Holidays.

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Sexual Harassment (and Assault)

This week sexual harassment. Without dwelling on the recent high profile cases, we will discuss sexual harassment and the role we may have in understanding and preventing it.

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What is Social Media For?

Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google were called before Congress to testify regarding Russian meddling in the recent election.

I thought this would be a good chance to examine our use of social media as Methodists. How do we share, how do we “consume” using social media.

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Taxes – How to Share the Burden

This week Congress laid the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s new tax proposal that will attempt to completely overhaul the American tax code. While the details and implementation of the new proposal still need to be worked out, any change to our complicated tax code will likely impact nearly resident of the United States.

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American International Involvement

In the wake of Senator McCain’s emotional, thinly veiled critique of President Trump’s global stewardship Monday night we discuss the role of the U.S. on the world stage.

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Success – What is it?

Name some examples of people you think of as successes.
What does success look like?
Have you ever felt pressure to continue something you really wanted to quit?
What expectations from others impact you? In what ways are these expectations positive or negative; how do they help or hurt you?

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Las Vegas and Violence in America

With the massacre in Las Vegas, we are again forced to look at the violence within our culture. I’m sure we can talk about gun laws and that may be helpful, but what about the root of the issue.

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The NFL, the Flag, the Anthem and Debate in America

As the debate over standing or not standing as a form of protest during the national anthem continues. I thought we would discuss the subject in the context of what kind of interaction should we, as Methodists, have when it comes to our disagreements.

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Harvey, Irma, Mexico City – Disaster Relief and Our Role

“Churches Shelve Theology for Disaster Relief Efforts” ran the headline of a Tennessee newspaper reporting on a devastating 2010 flood. The article focused on how churches with different ways of thinking were working together in response to the urgent needs of flood victims.

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Persecution of Christians

This conversation got started as Pastor Olsen published a rebuttal to the Rev. Franklin Graham and his claim that Christians are being persecuted in the United States (see links).

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Bishop Karen Oliveto: Responding to Judicial Council decision

The consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, the top court of The United Methodist Church has ruled.

However, the bishop “remains in good standing,” the Judicial Council said in Decision 1341, until an administrative or judicial process is completed.

“Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision, made public April 28. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

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Pence Comments Prompt Debate on the ‘Billy Graham Rule’

This week’s discussion begins with the revelation that Vice President Pence seeks to abide by a variation of the so-called “Billy Graham Rule” limiting his social interaction with women. The news set off a lively debate on the Internet regarding setting appropriate boundaries for personal behavior, particularly regarding gender relations. So for our next class, we will focus on how Christians can steer clear of temptation and avoid even the appearance of evil.

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Violent Removal of Legally Seated Passenger

Most Americans have now heard about the incident two weeks ago where a legally boarded passenger was physically dragged off a United Airlines flight to make room for a crew member being shuttled to another flight. That incident has resulted in widespread anger and disapproval both nationwide and around the world, and has left United dealing with a PR nightmare and probably a lawsuit on behalf of the passenger.

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Gaza Strip Killing Raises Middle East Tensions

The recent killing of a senior operative in the militant Islamist movement called Hamas has raised the possibility of a clash between Israelis and residents of the Gaza Strip. Ancient animosities are rising to the surface again, making it more difficult for the people of this part of the Middle East to work toward peace. So the challenge of reaching across divisions and working for reconciliation, as nations and individuals, will be the topic of our next class.

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Healthcare Debate

This week, the House of Representatives voted on a bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), which had been championed by Democrats and passed into law with no Republican support.

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