Progressive Faith Sermons - Dr. Roger Ray

The list of the suffering in this world could go on indefinitely, and this week has been no exception. From the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is being tried to the growing refugee crisis in Ethiopia, we find ourselves asking: how do we grieve the oppression and violence, while we also celebrate the moments of joy and justice that we encounter along the way, and encourage each other to live like another world is actually possible? On this Easter Sunday, we reflect on how spiritual practice can help us continually find new life as we dismantle supremacy and claim our dignity and joy.

Direct download: 20210404_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

Events of the past week have revealed the weakness of our nation’s lax gun laws, the dangerous escalation of anti-Asian prejudice, the insidious racism behind a wave of new voter suppression laws, and even the unworkable nature of attempts at legislating morality. The good news is that the problems that seem impossible to solve to our elected officials have all been fairly well resolved in most western democracies. What remains for Americans is to wake up to the best practices that were implemented in western Europe a generation ago.
Direct download: 20210327_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

In most western nations, the penal system is designed to reform convicted criminals so that they can return to a productive life in society. In the USA, where we have two million people in prison and nine million on parole, a far greater percentage of our population than any other western democracy, prison terms are more likely to be used for a kind of social revenge than they are for reform. Sex crimes are typically considered to be the most heinous, but in a penal system bent on putting more people in prison for longer sentences, have we lost our way in imprisoning those who have not committed rape, assault, or even sexual harassment but who have viewed illegal pornography in their own homes? A teenager with the impulse control issues that often accompany autism or bi-polar disorders who watches child porn in private may not be "innocent" but is their crime on the scale of murder? If not, then why do we punish them more severely than we do murderers? Have they, somehow, committed the unforgivable sin?

Direct download: 20210321_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

The question that echoes from the primeval pages of Genesis demands a new answer in this era of a global pandemic, "Am I my brother's (sister's) keeper?" We all know that the right answer is "yes" but fear sure can make us a lot more selfish than in our more relaxed moments. Some of us are afraid of either getting or spreading the virus, others are afraid of being manipulated by what they see as public hysteria. On either side of the fence, fear doesn't bring out our best qualities. But, in spite of the way the pandemic has been made into a partisan issue, we have a common though invisible enemy, Covid-19. And in the midst of the pandemic, we have myriad opportunities to find and express our better selves by being mindful of the needs of our sisters and brothers.

Direct download: 20210314_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

When injustice and oppression become normal in a society, it often requires persistent and even outrageous actions to unveil, resist, and ultimately transform it. Like Jesus turning over tables in the temple, we must continually braid our own whip of cords by learning and applying creative tactics that help us both unveil the evil of injustice and live our way into another world.

Direct download: 20210307_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

This year’s conservative Republican gathering, CPAC, included the surprising presence of a golden statue of Donald Trump. It is surprising that the gathering of largely Evangelical Christians did not immediately see the easily drawn analogy to the golden calf idol from Exodus. But, it is a fitting symbol of the idol the former president’s supporters have bowed down to worship: greed, racism, oppression, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and more. The statue represents in a very real way the “id” of our culture but, as an idol, it is slated to be destroyed. The liberation of America from the shadow of our heritage of white supremacy and economic oppression must end.

Direct download: 20210228_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

This talk has been prepared for a group of progressive clergy in the United Kingdom who posed this question: What must be done to rebuild America after Trump. This message proposes 4 key responses: Massive campaign finance reform. A restoration of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine. A renewed commitment to education. An emphasis on vital but achievable goals around which we can unite.

Direct download: 20210221_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

In the novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, two young lovers are thwarted in their desire to be together, only to be given a second chance at love when they are old. Still, though about half of us now live alone, that does not mean that we have to give up on hope that we, even in our later years, might not have, at long last, a real opportunity for a meaningful connection. This sermon speaks to the stresses we are feeling, a year into our pandemic, that might tear at the fabric of existing relationships and dash hopes for single people of ever making a meaningful connection. Regardless of the challenges, as the poet Marty McConnell has written, “You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.”

Direct download: 20210214_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It's now common for us to hear false accusations that social justice movements are just "ideological poison" and honest treatments of the more difficult aspects of US history are just "toxic propaganda." Activists and historians alike have come under increasing attacks, especially when it comes to racial justice, while so-called "patriotic education" programs have inspired conspiratorial beliefs and Capitol riots. Over the last year, the 1619 Project and the 1776 Commission have become symbols of these two approaches, reminding us that how we remember the past impacts how we deal with the present. And how we deal with the present shapes the possibilities of creating a better, more just, more compassionate, and more livable future.

Direct download: 210207_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

Though Gandhi and MLK are lauded as great social heroes in our day, during their lifetimes they were often put in jail and were regarded as enemies of the state. To be honest about some of the people currently regarded in the USA as being traitors or at least being guilty of espionage, we should wonder if they will one day be regarded as heroic whistleblowers? Already, in Berlin, there are statues erected in honor of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden but here in the United States, Manning has served seven years in prison and the US government is trying to get their hands on Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, both of whom are doing everything they can to avoid extradition from Russia and England. History will be the eventual jury of all three, but it seems that the crimes of the whistleblowers are dwarfed by the government crimes they have revealed. 
Direct download: 20210131_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

The laudable stated goal of the new Biden administration to bring unity to the red and the blue factions of America is obviously necessary, but it is a steep hill to climb. For the most part, the Jan. 6 insurrection was the product of a constant diet of lies and propaganda. Certainly, the first step of reuniting the United States calls for a renewed commitment to the truth, from politicians, in the media, and from the pulpit! Secondly, the huge gulf in how justice is applied to the rich and powerful and how it is applied to the rest of us must be closed. It is not just those who desecrated the Capitol Building who should be arrested and criminally charged, we must treat those who incited the insurrection in the same way. It will be simultaneously internationally embarrassing and a source of reassurance that democracy prevails to see a former president and several members of the Senate and Congress on trial, facing almost certain jail time, but it is necessary.

Direct download: 20210124_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

A Haitian proverb declares, "No one listens to the cry of the poor or the sound of a wooden bell." That seems like a sad resignation to the way that things are but what we realize about Martin Luther King, Jr. is that his peculiar genius was to amplify the voices of the poor, to make the injustice of racism visible, on the evening news, to people who had been covering their ears and looking the other way for a century. Honoring King's memory is more than a mere exercise of reciting history. It really should be finding a way to continue his work in the 21st century. The Voters' Rights Act that King fought to get passed has been gutted. Voter suppression, especially in southern states, is back again. How can we amplify the cry of the poor in our day? (and, seriously, shouldn't our pulpits be on the front line of that project?)

Direct download: 20210117_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

America is horrified and embarrassed but not many of us are shocked. The failed insurrection that took place on Wednesday, January 6th, was planned, orchestrated, inspired, and incited by our president who recently lost re-election and who has been desperate to hold onto power even if he had to destroy democracy to do so. We have witnessed the embodiment of Voltaire’s prophetic declaration that those who can make believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Having blown the dog-whistles of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia for five years, the president’s minions desecrated our Capitol building, the seat of Democracy. The next ten days may contain even greater atrocities but with hope and determination, we must resolve to overcome lies with the truth, irrational conspiracies with evidence and critical thinking, and fearmongering with disciplined love and community.

Video mentioned in sermon: Trump family watching crowds/rioters

Direct download: 20210110_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

Changes are coming that give us reason for substantial hope. We will have a change in administrations in early 2021 and an amelioration of the pandemic later in the year followed by a huge economic recovery. But looking past this new year, very soon, electric cars will replace gas burning cars and sustainable energy will end carbon pollution from generating electricity. Artificial Intelligence will not only drive our cars for us, AI will largely build our cars. People will be liberated from mundane repetitive labor but they may also be liberated from an income. The promise of new technologies is huge but the risk of lapsing into a world dominated by the few who are wealthy while most are relegated to a peasant class similar to the Dark Ages is very real. We can use this new technology to design an economy that gives us a kind of heaven on earth, or unrestrained capitalism can consign most of us to a living hell of poverty and want. Now is the time for persons of conscience to become in

Direct download: 20210103_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EDT

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