Sunday, January 22nd, 5 PM
Stranger As Neighbor in a Promised Land
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
Contrary to the old adage, fences do not necessarily make good neighbors. The daily headlines recently focused on the latest dust-up between the U.S. and the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict; when our country declined to once again veto a UN Security Council resolution, condemning the continued construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian occupied territories that some critics are now labeling an apartheid state.
More than just a turf war between two different groups trying to occupy the same patch of earth, there also lies religiously-infused traditions as powerfully determinant as are the political ideologies. Three questions:
What is the modern historical background and context for the present day conflict? But more so, how does it reflect not only the ancient feud, infused with violence; but the scriptural injunction it fails to honor? And finally, what does this sorry example ultimately say to us all if we dare pose the 2-fold question to ourselves, who is our “god” and who is our neighbor?
This Pathways program will begin (with a new series of as-yet undetermined length!) to undertake these daunting questions. First with an educational component; being a brief educational ‘primer’ as a basis for understanding the current “facts on the ground” in Israel. In addition, we’ll then consider the reconciling scriptural challenge from our Judeo-Christian religious traditions. And finally, we’ll even consider the underlying notion of divine favor and authority to which all religious groups seem to habitually lay claim.
It all goes to the very heart of asking the most essential and fundamental question, when it comes to fences and walls, neighbors and strangers: If I am to “love the Lord my God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself,” who (or what) is my “god,” and who is my neighbor?
Returning to join us in this program will be our friend, Michael Cooper, MD. Michael has personal, first-hand experience with this subject. As an American Jew and a pediatric cardiologist, Michael makes two mission trips to Israel each year to donate his medical expertise to Palestinian children in need of care. Michael is also the author of two historical novels, Foxes in the Vineyard, and The Rabbi’s Knight. He lives with his wife, Teri, in Lafayette.
Always a free event, open to everyone, but please RSVP: email@example.com Newcomers always welcome.
Location: Bennison Residence – 2311 Walnut Blvd. Walnut Creek
A Calendar of 2017 Gathering Dates is here.
A Christmas Reflection from Words & Ways
How a “Non-theist” Celebrates “The Holidays,” Part II
In case you hadn’t heard, it’s okay to say “Merry Christmas” again. As I wrote this commentary, president-elect Donald Trump had just uttered this proclamation on his victory tour. But anyone who has ever read the source material for the amalgamated tale commonly known as the “Christmas Story” (the Christian scriptures) knows there are several separate and distinct versions that differ both in factual detail and – more importantly — theological intent. if you’re going to say “Merry Christmas” again, which Christ in Christ-mas are you talking about?
You can read more of what this might mean in this latest commentary Here.
For more than four decades, John Bennison has been a pastor, preacher, teacher, trainer, carpenter, coffin builder, counselor, spiritual advisor, ethicist, writer and lyricist, musician and entertainer, assembly-line union worker, small business entrepreneur, residential real estate specialist, corporate cog and executive director of several non-profit organizations.
He’s authored eight publications on faith and values, and as an ordained minister served as a parish pastor over 25 years. He earned his Doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, as well as his BA degree in philosophy and religion from Lake Forest College.
John contributes his leadership experience as Executive Director and Lead Teacher at Pathways, as he writes the Words & Ways commentaries and blogs on The Christian Progressive, engaging others everywhere in meaningful dialogue. He also serves as the Director of the Mountain Shadow Film Society.
Meanwhile, John also continues to provide professional client services to buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Bay Area area market (www.imaginecominghome.com).
Having raised two daughters, he resides with his spouse and golden retriever in Walnut Creek, California.