Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remembering Marcus Borg

It was quite a weekend when Marcus Borg came to Birmingham, Alabama to deliver the SPAFER Lectures in the Fall of 2003. He spoke to a packed house at Southside Baptist Church. I had not heard of him until that weekend, and I found him to be quite remarkable at bringing the intellectual and spiritual sides of Christianity together. In my opinion he stood out from the Jesus Seminar scholars in the way that he brought deep personal meaning and spirituality to modern scholarship. Some have said that he brought people back to a life of Christian faith who had given up on the church.

Yesterday we lost a wonderful scholar and a kind and gentle soul. When I received word that Marcus Borg had died, my heart sank and I recalled my encounter with him that weekend back in 2003. He had apparently read The Oasis Newsletter that SPAFER produced which provided the details of the lecture series that weekend. In that issue, I had an article titled "Western Zen." During one of the breaks, I approached Mr. Borg to get him to autograph his book The Heart of Christianity. As he was signing the book, much to my surprise he said, "I really liked that article you wrote. I mean every aspect of it was so good." He had recognized me because my picture had been in the newsletter.  He even commented on particular things I had noted in the article. I was amazed that he had taken time to read it and that he expressed genuine interest in what we were doing in our small part of the world -- and he wanted to encourage that. That was Borg's nature.

You can read another remembrance "My Friend Marcus Borg," by Rev. Barkley Thompson here. As I read Rev. Thompson's remembrance, I saw that same kind gentle and wise soul that I had met ever so briefly years ago. He will be greatly missed, but thankfully his books are here with us and many of his lectures can be found online to carry forth the path of wisdom that he called us to. For more information about Marcus Borg, visit the Explore Faith website here.

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