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Friday, March 25, 2011
Rogers Family Lecture Series Tonight: Progressive Views, Historical Analysis to be Explored
Dr. Marcus Borg
It’s rainy, cold, and even a bit snowy today….what better excuse to attend a provocative lecture tonight? I’ve seen many presentations and lectures in my day (one of my favorite things about living in a vibrant college town) and when I unwittingly went to see “some guy named Marcus Borg” with a friend 15 years ago, I saw simply the BEST lecture speaker I’ve ever seen on any topic. Just the fact that I remember his message, specific phrases, and the difference it made in my ability and desire to explore the Divine is noteworthy.
I hope to see friends and community members tonight, especially, or any of the other lectures this weekend. A Wine and Cheese reception will follow Dr. Borg’s message tonight. The schedule of events for the weekend is listed in my profile picture on FB and the image below on this blog entry.
This article was published on page A7 of the Saturday, March 19, 2011 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune.
Scholar to lecture on Jesus
Progressive views, historical analysis will be explored.
Deemed one of the more fascinating and thought-provoking theologians of our time, Marcus Borg is winging his way to Columbia on Friday to give a series of Lenten lectures at First Christian Church.
Borg is a widely known scholar and spokesman for progressive Christianity. A fellow of the widely publicized, sometimes criticized Jesus Seminar, he has published several books about who Jesus was and how Christianity has changed over the ages.
Borg attended college in chilly Moorhead, Minn., and eventually went on to obtain his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University in England. He was installed as the first canon theologian for his Episcopal congregation in Portland, Ore., after teaching philosophy for many years at Oregon State University. One of Borg’s current roles, after retirement, is to travel and lecture throughout the United States, sharing progressive perspectives and historical analysis on Jesus and broader Christianity.
The author and lecturer has published 18 books surrounding portraits of Jesus’ character and reflections on the meanings of the Bible. He is set to publish another title in April, “Speaking Christian.” In the book, Borg explores how Christian language has been adapted to mean very particular things, saying the vocabulary many American Christians use can become insular and even meaningless at times.
Borg’s other recent book is a departure from his traditional nonfiction bestsellers such as “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” (2001) and “The Heart of Christianity” (2003). Instead, “Putting Away Childish Things” is a novel set on a postmodern-era college campus. The characters — students and faculty alike —– wrestle to reconcile traditional views of Christianity with secular views as well as with emerging perspectives on faith. One of Borg’s purposes behind writing a novel was “people remember stories much better than they remember a straight list of teachings,” he explained in a 2010 interview with ReadTheSpirit.com. “It’s important to show people ways that we can reclaim Christianity from some of the misunderstandings of our time.”
Many in the community and around the globe have expressed that years of Borg’s nonfiction writings have affected and encouraged them. Genie Rogers is the family member and liaison connected with the current Rogers Memorial Lecture Series held by First Christian Church. Borg “had come to Columbia about 11 years ago,” Rogers remembered, and many people in the congregation appreciated his visit: “He was a very popular lecturer and speaker.” Years later, Borg’s popularity here and outside the region apparently hasn’t waned. “We’ve had him on the calendar for over a year,” Rogers said.
John Yonker, minister emeritus at First Christian, first became aware of Borg’s writings in 1994, when he read “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.” He was affected by the book, finding it “a fresh approach to understanding the Christian faith,” Yonker said in an email. He mentioned the book in a few of his sermons and said eventually other members of the church “expressed interest and appreciation for his research into the historical Jesus.” After using his books and studying Borg’s teachings in small groups, the congregation eventually welcomed him for his first visit.
The smaller classes have been instrumental, Yonker said, because “many people have come to appreciate his scholarly approach to understanding the Bible while maintaining his commitment to live as a Christian and an active member of the church.” He noted that one woman at First Christian who grew up in a stricter church setting began attending the congregation primarily because of Borg’s works. “Many people have found his work very helpful in maintaining their own faith,” Yonker said.
Borg’s lectures will be held in the sanctuary of First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St. The lectures are open to the public and free of charge.