Progressive Faith Sermons - Dr. Roger Ray
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I hear from listeners who group our videos with the lectures of Spong, Borg, Crossan and Armstrong and while that is flattering, I know that I am not on the "A list" of progressive speakers (I can see the book sales numbers, after all!). But as important as the work of these leading progressive scholars has been to all of us, Borg is regrettably deceased, Spong is recovering from a stroke, and we get only a few new lectures every year from Armstrong and Crossan. Our channel produces 48-52 new messages every year, offering a progressive perspective on current events. Our continued presence on the web is entirely dependent upon finding a few folks who are willing to help to financially support us. No one is trying to make a big salary out of this effort, in fact, we are a very lean operation, but we still have to have some support to keep going. Please become more than a listener, become a donor by going to - click on the donate button and become a monthly donor to keep the messages coming…. for you and for literally tens of thousands of listeners who will never become a contributor but who benefit from the content of our channel.  Thank you!

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We are proud to announce the release of Holly Ketchum's new children's book, America Will Be Great. This wonderful book is aimed at early elementary aged students and illustrates inclusion and acceptance rather than bans, walls, rejection and prejudice. We are distributing the books at our cost - please go to,  - click on the donate button - and donate $7 per copy and give us a mailing address and we will send you your author autographed copies.

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Featuring "Purpose in the Pain" by David Greathouse

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Featuring "The Sound that Love Makes" by David Greathouse

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Featuring "Black Snake" by David Greathouse

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Featuring "Shine On" by David Greathouse

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Of the more than 15,000 viewers and listeners we have each month, fewer than 100 support us financially. Our continued existence is in question. Please become a regular contributor to keep this progressive resource in existence. Without listener donations our church would not exist. If we are your virtual church, please support us (you can donate on line at
You can donate by clicking on the donate button on our website:
Or you can mail donations to us at:
Community Christian Church
4806 E Farm Road 136
Springfield, MO 65809

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Reinhold Niebuhr said: Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; and he added, Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone. These important observations should inform people of faith, recognizing that we are mired in the present moment yet the just society we long for cannot likely be attained during our lifetimes and we certainly can’t make much progress as isolated individuals. We must not allow our cynicism about the next four years to keep us from working for those important goals that will not be visible for generations to come.

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Noam Chomsky offers two dire warnings following the election of Donald Trump: The first is an accelerated use of carbon based fuels that will bring the human race to extinction and the other is a renewed nuclear arms race leading quickly to a nuclear war. As real as these threats are, this sermon speaks to the ways in which fear is a villain that pushes us to make the worst decisions in response to these global threats.

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The Standing Rock camps are still in operation. The DAPL construction equipment is still poised to return to drilling if the Trump administration reverses Obama's halt on the project. This important protest still calls for our involvement and support.

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This sermon was written and delivered by Rev. Mel Miller in 1963. The Millers had four children when they decided to adopt a black child and then a Native American child in the early days of the Civil Rights movement. They were sorely abused for their progressive decision but Mel wrote this sermon (which is read today by his eldest daughter) to kindly and patiently help his congregation to understand the bold moves his family was making.

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Matthew and Luke tell completely different (and contradictory) accounts of the birth of Jesus.  Neither are meant to be taken literally.  They were writing a theological message (sermon) to introduce their gospels.  Where the two agree is that the Jesus they were going to describe was a messenger who would turn the world upside down, casting down the rich and powerful in favor of the weak and poor.  There is our real Christmas story, a story of liberation and justice.

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We cannot make America Great by exporting Hispanics, by closing our borders to Muslims, by taking away the rights of same sex couples, women, union laborers, and the differently abled. In fact, America is great, not in spite of its diversity but specifically because of it.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted that education was failing on two fronts: we were failing to teach students to think critically, and we were failing to teach character. A shocking number of people fall for fake news and it is changing our government and our society. King's complaint is very relevant to our present crisis, as we now appear to live in an Empire of Lies in which speaking the truth appears to be treason.

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Economics is not a hard science. Economists sometimes try to make us believe that it is and they do equip their textbooks and classroom lectures with impressive charts and graphs but an economist will call things like the fish in the ocean and the trees in a forest an “externality” that has no value. In truth, as philosopher Alan Watts has written, money doesn’t exist, it is just a concept. We must begin to think about intrinsic value of things like clean water and air, the value of farmland and forests, beyond what they would bring in the marketplace.

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For the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, this Thanksgiving was a time for defending not only the Missouri River from pollution but also defending themselves from assault from Dakota Access Pipeline security employees and sheriff’s deputies hired from five states. Native Americans are forming what may be the civil rights movement of our generation as they stand up to the full force of a $3.8 billion fossil fuel construction project.

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As progressives try to process the election of Donald Trump and we face the prospects of a ban on Muslim immigrants, the deportation of millions of undocumented Latinos, and appointments to the Supreme Court that could bring an end to legal same sex marriage and abortion, we look for a way through our disappointment, anger, fear, and grief, to find a path into moral leadership.

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The Native Americans camped out in North Dakota in opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline have hardly been mentioned in the news and much of what has been reported is either misleading or patently false. The use of propaganda often makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong in any protest, whistleblower case, or "leak" of sensitive information. Who is the terrorist, who is the traitor, and who are the heroes?

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Grief is the price you pay for loving any living thing. The morality rate is, ultimately 100% and so do we deny our grief by investing ourselves in a belief in some kind of life after death or find a way through the grief into sacred remembering?

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People migrate, as refugees of war, famine, or poverty. These migrations are often the cause of the worst genocides and most violent clashes in history. In the modern era it is time for us to start being honest about these intentional holocausts as land is taken from one nation by another. This sermon proposes the change from our observance of Columbus Day to a more appropriate Indigenous Peoples' Day. (Oh, and Dr. Ray knows that it is the Missouri River in North Dakota and not the Mississippi River….regardless of what he may have said in this recording)

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The ancient mythic account of Jacob's night wrestling in the wilderness with a man/demon/God made him a new person… with a limp. Coming to terms with ourselves, taking a fearless and searching moral inventory of our own life, is the path out of the wilderness of isolation, constant victimization, and life destroying anger.

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Many are surprised to find that their favorite source for progressive sermons is a tiny church in Springfield, MO, the reddest of red states. I can tell you that our survival is now dependent upon the donations we received from our world wide audience. Please take a moment to become a regular donor by clicking on the "Donate" button on our website: and make your gift a recurring monthly gift.

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Progressive religious people have made a choice, not one necessarily based on evidence or critical thinking, but a vital choice between self service and service of others. For us, the spiritual life is rooted in an evidence based faith in which we use critical thinking but we have chosen an ethic of interconnectedness with other people rather than simple self service.

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Progressive communities of faith, if they are to survive the coming generation, must be willing to make some fundamental and fairly quick changes. Churches must be willing to embrace critical thinking and set aside creedal beliefs in otherworldly myths and superstitions. We must embrace a radical mission of service and prophetic witness to social justice. But, and this is crucial, we have to learn how to make this journey joyfully. Without joy, cynicism will paralyze our congregations.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” The prophet Amos was angry about how the poor were abused by merchants in his day and we have every reason to be even more angry today but we cannot wait for the marketplace to grow a conscience. The victims of economic exploitation but organize, unite, and demand fair treatment and people of faith need to get out of the pews and join them in the streets!

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On this 15th anniversary of 9-11, we look back and ask ourselves if 15 years of war with more than 600,000 civilian casualties, have we defeated terrorism or have we just created new generations of terrorists. As Malala has told us, with a gun you can kill a terrorist but with education you can kill terrorism. We must immediately cease the drone killings, invasions, and military tactics and begin teaching peace on both sides of this violent divide.

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Though our world has completely transformed in the span of a century, our attitude towards labor is still locked in the more primitive era of scarcity. The real modern world is still waiting to be born when we will afford all human beings a decent way to live without fear of homelessness or hunger.

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Rev. John Churcher's 2nd lecture in the "Evolution of God" conference. This recording was made in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia, SC

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The 600% increase in the price of a life saving Epi Pen was a purely capitalist decision because the corporation holding patent felt that the market would bear the higher price. That is the whole problem with the health care system being in the hands of unbridled capitalism. Capitalism, as an economic system has neither a morality or a conscience unless the society chooses to place ethical boundaries around it… which we should.

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What do we mean when we say “GOD”?
A religious conference addressing the evolution of what people think about the nature and character of God.
Community Christian Church in Springfield, MO
4806 E Cherry St
August 5-7

Unitarian Universalist Community of Columbia
AUGUST 12-14, 2016
2701 Heyward Street, Columbia, SC 29205
Keynote Speaker, Rev. John Churcher, of England’s popular “Permission to Speak” fame and noteworthy speakers include Rev. Mo Wills, Sean Spyres, and Dr. Roger Ray.

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One of the great contributions of Abraham Maslow to the practice of psychology was a shift in emphasis from trying to focus on what was wrong in a person's life to trying to enhance personal strengths. As one old hardware store sage advised a customer, "Stop worrying about killing weeds and focus on growing grass." In the progressive movement, we need to move beyond stressing where we disagree with mainstream religion and really get good at expressing what we do believe and how we want to incorporate those positive beliefs into the world.

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Five years after Luther began the Reformation he was damning Anabaptists who did not agree with his Biblical interpretations. Within a generation the initially bold and dramatic reforms envisioned in Protestantism settled back into the same magical thinking of traditional Christianity.  With the current Progressive movement also fail? Are people afraid to think for themselves; will they always fall back into the comfort of creeds and magic shows? As Voltaire observed, if you can persuade someone to believe what is absurd you can then get them to commit atrocities. The world needs a fact-based faith that refuses to believe lies.

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"The Intoxication of Power"
(I Kings 21, the story of King Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard)
There is a very distinct anti-government thread that runs through the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings of the Hebrew Bible. The story of how Ahab’s wife had a citizen killed so that the king could take his land represents the danger of how power corrupts an individual and destroys a society. As easy as it is to criticize the abuses of those in power, there is also a personal message in this to reflect on how much better we really are when given the power to abuse others.

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In this epsiode I am reading an article that I wrote in immediate response to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando. You can read the text on the Daily Kos at

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Dr. Paul Thomlinson, chief researcher for Burrell Mental Health speaks to current social aspects of the stigma of mental illness and how the failure to receive treatment relates to addiction.

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Addiction is back in the news, largely because opiod and heroin addiction is reaching into the mainstream of middle and upper class. This message addresses the assumption that, as Jung suggested, the root of addiction is a spiritual thirst, perhaps best seen in the need for positive community connection.

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Of the more than 10,000 listeners we have each month, fewer than 80 support us financially. Our continued existence is in question. Please visit and become a regular contributor to keep this progressive resource in existence.

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US General Boykin described our war in Iraq as a battle between our God and their God. This unfortunate prejudice is also visible in the battle described in I Kings between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. We need to rise above such partisan divisions and recognize that governments are not interested in religion, they just use religion to recruit the poor of one nation to kill the poor of another nation. Wars are about money and power. There is no reason for people of faith to ever go to war because of their religion.

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Progressives often seem to feel a kind of compassion fatigue from being asked to be concerned about so many different issues of injustice. Perhaps the issue is that we give ourselves permission to give up because we get tired, or bored, or we allow indifference to get the best of us. Perhaps the spiritual prescription for the church is that they should choose to love more.

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Early 20th century theologians as well as many poets, journalists, essayists, and philosophers were urging the public to embrace a progressive approach to faith that was concerned with behavior more than beliefs, that was rooted in ethics and not in magical thinking. Maybe it was WWII, or maybe it was the advent of evangelists on TV and radio, but Americans did not embrace their sages at the time. We can hope that a more rational approach to faith is being born in 21st century America.

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Accepting that the world has a beginning and an end leads to a dismissive view of poverty, pollution, warfare, and social classes. While everyone certainly has a right to their personal beliefs about life after death, Muslims, Christians, and Jews must focus on the life that we know and to root our faith in what we can see in front of us. The early church was so confident that Jesus was coming back soon that they ignored many important matters of ethics. We cannot afford to make that mistake.

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Once every month we remind our listeners that our presence on the web, our continued existence as a church is predicated entirely upon people being willing to make donations to support the church. Without the donations of our internet listeners, we would be closing the church this year. With your help, we hope to last for many more years but, in all honesty, it is up to you.

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4806 E Farm Road 136
Springfield, MO 65809

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