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Jim Burklo
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Jim Burklo is the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. He is an Adjunct Professor at USC’s School of Social Work, and is a Faculty Mentor at the USC Keck School of Medicine. He's an ordained United Church of Christ pastor. He has pastored churches, served as a campus minister at Stanford, and headed a homeless services agency. Rev. Burklo is the author of three books: "Open Christianity: Home by Another Road" (2000); "Birdlike and Barnless: Meditations, Prayers, Poems, and Songs for Progressive Christians" (2008); and "Hitchhiking to Alaska: The Way of Soulful Service" (2013).

Entries by Jim Burklo

The Politics of Love

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 11:12 AM

For a long period in the history of the United States, Christians understood that progressive political action for structural social change was a necessary means toward the end of living out the gospel.  They understood that charity would never solve the nation's social ills.  Their religious faith...
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World Religion in America: The Second Generation

(3) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 10:58 AM

She looked the part of a fine arts major, with the gold spangle in her nostril, the streak of purple in her jet-black hair, and her bespoke clothing.  Her diminutive form and high voice gave no hint of the feisty energy that would pour forth whenever she spoke up in...

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Mindful Christianity

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 8:22 PM

I invite you to join me in an experience of mindful Christianity.

Let us begin with a time of silence with eyes closed. In the quiet, observe whatever arises to take your attention. Just watch it, letting it be. Don't try to change it or fix it. But...

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Incarceration or Redemption?

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2014 | 12:56 PM

Today, over 2,000,000 Americans are in jail or in prison. We've got five percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. More black men are under the control of the criminal justice system in America today than were enslaved before the Civil War...

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Intimate Silence: Spirituality of Desert Preservation

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 8:34 PM

Desert Stewardship Project event, 9/6/14, Joshua Tree National Monument

A young Muslim woman student at the University of Southern California once told me that the reason she fasts at Ramadan is to manifest an essential human quality. Human beings, she said, are the only creatures that are able to restrain...

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Coffee Hour -- America's True Religion

(1) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 11:47 AM

(Here's one from the vault!  from 1984... it ran in CoEvolution/Whole Earth Review, which was a journal of countercultural thought and technology produced by Stewart Brand and the folks at the Whole Earth Catalog.  Shortly after my article appeared, I went to worship at a Gnostic church in Palo Alto,...

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Deeper Love

(1) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 2:58 PM

For deeper love we spread the bread

I won't be full till all are fed

Till every soul has home and bed

The rest of us can't move ahead


For deeper love we share the wine

I cannot taste the love divine

Till every...

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A Visit to Thad's

(1) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 1:37 AM

This past Sunday morning in Los Angeles was bright with strong wind blowing clear air over the mountains from the high desert. The palm trees swayed along Highway 10 west into Santa Monica. Two right turns at the Cloverfield exit took me past the garbage company and into the chain-link...

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The Supreme Trivialization of Prayer

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 1:57 AM

The surest way to weaken a religion is to get the government to endorse it.

That may not have been the insight that led the founders of the United States to disallow the government from establishing religion.  They were responding to the...

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Pop Prophets and Religious Pluralism

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 6:26 PM

A review by Jim Burklo of NATURAL MYSTICS: The Prophetic Lives of Bob Marley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan by Varun Soni (Figueroa Press: 2014).


Waves of wailing falsetto lifted Rama's holy name above the reedy voice of the harmonium and the steady beat of hands clapping and...

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'I Am...' -- A Meditation for Holy Week

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 12:18 PM

"He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, 'I am God's son.'" Thus the chief priests, scribes and elders mocked Jesus as he hung from the cross. They assumed that Jesus had spoken literally when he identified himself as the son of...

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Blessing Taxes, Honoring Oaths

(1) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 9:42 AM

Taxes are the way that people of faith care for the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, by funding our government's social safety-net services. Charity through faith communities and other groups is a vital supplement, but no replacement, for the role we give our government in meeting critical human needs.

...
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Ryan Bell's Year Without God

(4) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 5:00 PM

We sat in the sunken courtyard of the United University Church at USC in Los Angeles yesterday, basking in the sun under a bough of carmine bougainvillea, noshing on a delicious lunch of kichari dosed with almond dressing served outdoors by our Good Karma Cafe. "Since giving up God, I...

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Pluralistic Marriage

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 6:47 PM

A review of Saffron Cross by J. Dana Trent (Fresh Air Books, 2013)

As a Christian pastor, I've officiated at hundreds of weddings -- many between people of different faiths. Many of them started out their relationships without concerning themselves too much about their religious differences. It's only as marriage...

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What They Really Meant When They Signed That Statement of Faith

(5) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 3:14 PM

I dedicate this post to sincere Christian colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who work for evangelical and fundamentalist churches, colleges and other organizations which require signing a statement of faith as a condition of employment. I've learned that many of them never were, or no longer are, comfortable with these statements....

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Tale of a No-Tell Motel

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 7:18 AM

When I worked in East Palo Alto, Calif., for the Ecumenical Hunger Program, I served on an inter-agency committee to start the first shelter for homeless families in the area. After two years of effort, we found a site. It was an old travel court motel that had not been...

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