Living the Questions

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Living the Questions is a "DVD and web-based curriculum ... designed to help people wrestle with the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century."[1] Growing out of two United Methodist congregations in Arizona, the curriculum is part of the larger movement of Progressive Christianity and is distributed through the Internet and through several denominational publishing divisions like Cokesbury and Logos Productions.[2][3] Created to resource moderate to more liberally-minded Christians, Living the Questions (LtQ) is an alternative to the Alpha Course. LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 5000 churches across North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.[4]

Living the Questions does not offer a "systematic theology", but is more of a thematic overview born of day-to-day conversation and questions raised in local parishes. Utilizing both written material (downloadable from the web) and DVD-based input from "some of the most outspoken and respected voices in today’s theological circles," [5] LtQ curricula seeks to expose lay people to the complex theological questions and perspectives that are taught in seminaries but that often don't "trickle down" into the local church. The programs are not intended to spell out new doctrine or create new dogma, but to resource people who are in the midst of a lifelong conversation about the mysteries of faith and life. In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Butler Bass notes that both the Living the Questions program and it’s methodology were part of the success and vitality of one of her subject churches, Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California.[6] In Big Christianity: What’s Right with the Religious Left, author Jan G. Linn wrote that "Living the Questions is a welcomed … alternative to literalism that has promise in helping Christians find the biblical grounding for Bigger Christianity." He affirms that "faith questions are consistent with a desire to grow into spiritual maturity" with a quote from the mission of the Living the Questions series:

"People know that at its core, Christianity has something good to offer the human race. At the same time, many have a sense that they are alone in being a “thinking” Christian and that “salvaging” Christianity is a hopeless task. What is needed is a safe environment where they have permission to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice for fear of being thought a heretic."[7]
Living the Questions Session at St. Luke's Anglican, North London

Reviewers have called Living the Questions both "enlightening and inspiring" [8] and "fascinating" in that the series raises questions many have "thought about but have been afraid to ask, and topics they know are important but don’t hear mentioned in church." [9] U.S. liberal flagship mainline church magazine The Christian Century criticizes the original 12-session version of Living the Questions for taking a fundamentalist-like position, "close to a mirror image" of "fundamentalists".[10] The principle course has since been expanded to nearly twice the original length, doubling the number of contributing participants and broadening the mix of contributors to include more women, more racial minorities, and more representation from the LGBT community.

Producers[edit]

Living the Questions co-creators, Rev. Jeff Procter-Murphy and Rev. David Felten, are United Methodist clergy serving in Arizona churches.[11][12] They have been recognized by Bishop John Shelby Spong as "two of the most gifted young clergy I have ever met" [13] and being among the younger generation of clergy and theological future thinkers saying,

"I see future thinkers – yes, overtly Christian thinkers – already on the horizon and eager to go to places in their writing that it has not yet occurred to me to walk. I think especially of such people as Greta Vosper in Ontario, Ian Lawton in Michigan, Eric Elnes in Nebraska, Carlton Pearson and Robin Meyers in Oklahoma, Jeff Procter-Murphy and David Felten in Arizona, Hugh Dawes in England and Greg Jenks in Australia, whom I regard as the most creative church-related voices in the next generation. Each will make an enormous impact on the emerging Christian world."[14]

Based on the Living the Questions curriculum and written by the series creators, David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy, the book Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity was released by HarperOne (an imprint of HarperCollins) in August 2012.[15]

Contributors[edit]

All of the following contributors appear in "Living the Questions 2.0". Some appear in other curricula in the Living the Questions catalog.[16]

Nancy Ammerman, John L. Bell, Marcus Borg, Rita Nakashima Brock, Walter Brueggemann, Ron Buford, Minerva G. Carcaño, John B. Cobb, John Dominic Crossan, David Felten, Yvette Flunder, James A. Forbes, Matthew Fox, Lloyd Geering, Hans Küng, Cynthia Langston Kirk, Amy-Jill Levine, Megan McKenna, Pat McMahon, Culver "Bill" Nelson, Siyoung Park, Rebecca Ann Parker, Stephen Patterson, Helen Prejean, Jeff Procter-Murphy, Barbara Rossing, Tex Sample, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Bernard Brandon Scott, John Shelby Spong, Emilie Townes, Rick Ufford-Chase, Winnie Varghese, Mel White. The 2010 release of LtQ2's "Home Edition" adds the insights of Brian McLaren, Robin Meyers, and Diana Butler Bass.

Curriculum[edit]

Developed originally for use at Asbury United Methodist and Via de Cristo United Methodist in Arizona, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum.[17]

  • Living the Questions 2.0: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity
  • Saving Jesus Redux
  • Eclipsing Empire: Paul, Rome and the Kingdom of God with John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, on location in Turkey
  • First Light: Jesus and the Kingdom of God with John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, on location in the Galilee and Jerusalem
  • Countering Pharaoh's Production/Consumption Society Today with Walter Brueggemann
  • Questioning Capital Punishment with Sr. Helen Prejean
  • Tex Mix: Stories of Earthy Mysticism with Tex Sample
  • Jesus for the Non-Religious with John Shelby Spong
  • Uppity Women of the Bible with Lisa Wolf
  • Singing the Unsung with John L. Bell
  • DreamThinkBeDo (a remix of LTQs other work intended for young adults[18])

Many of the titles are now available in Home Editions licensed for personal use.

External links[edit]

References[edit]