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Reports indicate that the Roman Catholic Church is trying to come to a rapprochement with the Chinese Communist government over that government’s control of the Chinese Catholic Church.

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I have been nourished and empowered by the church now for almost 70 Christmases and my gratitude for and appreciation of the way the church imparts the faith in this season is strong.

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From what I can tell, this dazzling collection attempts to walk a fine line between hard-edged scholarship and the faith claim that the Christian Bible is the sacred Word of God, true and life changing.

Reviewing the history preceding that historic agreement and the events following it has reminded me that the creation of Israel was far more complex than the stroke of a pen.

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What I know and have discovered again this week is that if one doesn’t already have a deep repository of faith, it is almost impossible to find an anchor in the moment of crisis.

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Earlier this week, I was privileged to join with five pastors to encourage, support and train a group of approximately 20 other Methodist pastors in a proven way to maintain and sustain their physical, spiritual and mental health.

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The history books are filled with those who were convinced they could create a universal, loving, equitable and just society if they could just withdraw from the rest of flawed humanity. The failure rate is 100 percent.

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I wonder if the religious community – a very broadly defined group – believes there is any work to be done in Albany and Doughtery County regarding race relations and respect for each other?

Last Sunday afternoon, floating down the Toccoa River in a yellow inner tube outside of Blue Ridge, I began thinking about the Celtic saints and pilgrims who trusted their lives to God in a tiny, one person sailing vessel called a coracle.

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What I learned over the years was that people would tolerate the pastor mentioning world and national events in the preaching or the prayers if it didn’t feel like the pastor was heavy handed.

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It is satisfying to make a plan and see that plan bear fruit but even more pleasing is the fortuitous merging of unrelated circumstance.

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Perhaps you have read about a new statue of Clarence Darrow, the humanist lawyer who famously contended with William Jennings Bryan in the “monkey trial” in Dayton, Tenn., in 1925. At that trial, Dayton teacher John Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee law by teaching evolution.

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The order was so short on substance that the litigation-happy American Civil Liberties Union shrugged their shoulders and said they wouldn’t waste their time suing over this harmless pile of words.

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Thank God, most who serve the church/synagogue/mosque are extremely ethical and self-denying. But not everybody. And just because a person is ethical doesn’t mean they are making the best decisions for the organization.

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Somebody should rename I-75 Billboard Boulevard. It surely has to be one of the ugliest stretches of highway anywhere in the United States.

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So many of us will rise much earlier than usual this Easter Sunday, ignoring creaky, achy joints, bundling babies and small children, braving a cold morning by pulling out a topcoat and scarf or resigning self to shivering in a sleeveless Easter dress or blue jeans and a tee shirt.

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Those who plagiarize give a congregation the impression that they have worked out their sermons as a result of prayerful study when, in reality, they have lifted them from elsewhere.

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I admit to losing my patience with those who employ the word “persecution” to describe the smallest indignity, cheapening a very serious word by over-using it.

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Pastors often must make tough choices when it comes to congregational care, balancing the requests of church members while trying to remain true to the pastor’s faith, theology and meaning of the church.

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