Monthly Archives: March 2021

Tao Te Ching Translation Interview with Marc Mullinax PGE 36

As. early as one hundred years after the time of Jesus and the first generations of Christians, Christian thinkers recognized that Jewish Christian Scripture was not exhaustive in its claim to knowledge and there was insight and wisdom into the way and truth of things in non-Christian sources. While there have always been objections on the part of some Christians to doing so, as Tertullian’s famous question, ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’ indicates, the predominance of Christian thinkers have drawn from, incorporated into their thinking, build upon the ideas of, and felt the need to respond to the challenges of non-Christian thinkers. Greek philosophers, especially Plato and eventually Aristotle, have been the primary conversation partners throughout Christian history but these have not been the only ones.

Because of Western culture’s preference for definitions of truth being unchanging, stable, and absolute, the Christian West has been slow to dialogue with and embrace insights from Eastern philosophies which tend to have more dynamic worldviews. However, with the rise of such things as theories of relativity, quantum physics, process thinking, insights into paradigm shifts, and deconstruction thinking, that reluctance is changing.

For much of his life, my guest, Dr. Marc Mullinax, Christian theologian and Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Mars Hill University, in Mars Hill, NC, has found helpful insights and wisdom for living one’s life wisely, healthily and peacefully, and for the Christian faith in the ancient Chinese resource, the Tao Te Ching (You have already met Marc in episodes 10 and 11 of this podcast). Marc was not satisfied with the translations of the Tao he was using for the courses he teaches on Eastern/Asian thought. Consequently, he has provided us with a new and especially accessible translation of his own–Tao Te Ching: Power for the Peaceful.

There are three things that make this new book so valuable. The first is the care and quality of the translation. Marc’s target is us all, not just scholars or experts. In this he has succeed. His translation is easily read and understandable. The second, as a creative element, Marc has added sayings from around the world, from all periods of history, and even from popular culture that mirror the teachings and insights of Tao. The third is Marc has added notes and reflections after each block of verses that increase the accessibility and one’s understanding of the teachings of Tao.

Marc is also doing an ongoing Youtube podcast which you can find here or, by typing into the search box the title of the book, Tao Te Ching: Power to the Peaceful.

The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at

The Hymn Society Interview 1 PGE 35

From the beginning of the Church on the day of Pentecost just after our Lord ascended back to God, congregational singing and, in particular, hymns have been a part of Christian worship. Two of Christianity’s earliest documents, the New Testament letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, use the same trilogy of words to describe the music of Christian worship. Ephesians 5: 18-19 (NRSV) reads, ‘…but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts…’ Colossians 3:16 (NRSV) reads, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.’

Both congregational singing and hymns have had a varied and sometimes controversial history throughout the Church’s existence. In the earliest experience of the Church, congregational singing was almost exclusively the music of worship, especially during the times of persecution. After the conversion of Constantine, when the Church gained status, power, and wealth, when Latin became the mandated language of worship, and when monks and priests were often the only people who could read, singing in worship came to be done mostly by choirs. It was not until after the Protestant Reformation, when the mass was rejected as the pattern of worship by numerous Protestant groups and scripture was translated into the languages of the people, that congregational singing once again became the dominant form of music in worship. However, due to the influence of the Calvinist or Reform tradition within the Protestant Reformation, congregational singing was limited to psalmody, being the language of scripture. Hymns, understood as texts having been written by human hands, were looked upon with suspicion. It was only gradually that hymns became accepted back into worship. Once they did, however, collections of them into hymnals came to be the primary worship books of many Protestant denominations. There have been times when the words ‘hymn’ and ‘congregational singing’ have been synonymous. When the global evangelism and mission efforts began in the 1800s, hymns were the most useful resource for proclamation, worship, and discipleship efforts. With the rise of seeker-oriented worship services in the 1980s and 1990s, a sharp distinction was made between hymns, seen as a part of traditional worship and choruses, preferred by seeker-oriented services.

As degrees in church music have developed, courses in hymnology have been required and for nearly one hundred years, a Society, The Hymn Society, has been devoted to the hymn. Recently The Hymn Society formalized a project that was always an understood dimension of The Hymn Society’s efforts–The Center for Congregational Song.

My guests help us to understand more fully the hymn, its definitions and uses, and the work both of The Hymn Society and The Center for Congregational Song.

J. Michael McMahon has served as Executive Director of The Hymn Society since September 1, 2018. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Mike is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Washington Theological Union, a Master of Arts degree in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from The Catholic University of America. From 2001 until 2013 Mike served as President and CEO of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM). For nearly thirty years he worked in full-time church ministry, most recently from 2013 to 2018 as Minister of Music at National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Washington, D.C. Prior to 2001 Mike served churches in Virginia and Delaware as a full-time pastoral minister in the areas of music, worship, and Christian initiation. In addition to his full-time work as a pastoral minister, music director, and association executive, Mike has taught in the Department of Theology at The Catholic University of America and has been featured as a speaker and clinician for numerous regional church gatherings and national music organizations. He is the author of a book on Christian initiation, has written numerous articles on worship and church music for a variety of journals, and has contributed to several books on music ministry. He served as an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on Music in developing its national liturgical music guidelines, “Sing to the Lord” (2007). A native of Pittsburgh, Mike has long been a resident of the Washington area and currently lives in Montgomery Village, Maryland, with his husband Ray Valido.

Brian Hehn is Director of The Center for Congregational Song. Brian is an inspiring song-leader equally comfortable leading an acapella singing of “It Is Well” as he is drumming and dancing to “Sizohamba Naye.” Experienced using a variety of genres and instrumentations, he has lead worship for Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and many more across the U.S. and Canada. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Wingate University, his Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and is certified in children’s church music (K-12) by Choristers Guild. He has articles published on sacred music and congregational song in multiple journals and has recently co-authored two books on drumming in the church published by Choristers Guild. While working for The Hymn Society as the Director of The Center for Congregational Song, he is also adjunct professor of church music at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina and lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Eve, and son, Jakob.

The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at

The Race Relations Station PGE34

Part of the outgrowth of Meta Commerse’s work in racial healing is the development of The Race Relations Station. The Race Relations Station is a community action project which has the vision of a well, diverse, and just community and has as its mission racial healing and relationship building through story.

In this episode my guests, Liz Huesemann and Father Dennis Fotinos, introduce us to The Race Relations Station, its beginnings, and its ongoing work.

As I say in the episode, healing work is a form and part of peace work. For those of us who are Christians, peace is rooted in the Jewish concept of shalomShalom is a state experienced not only as a lack of conflict but also as one of being well and whole. Peace, for Christians (and not just for Christians), is brought about and sustained by expressions of love. Among those expressions of love is the practice of edification, or the practice of building a person up to enable her or him to be fully who she or he can be. Edification occurs as much through little daily behaviors of caring as it does through bigger gestures. Consequently, healing work and peace work must always mover beyond awareness, understanding, and acknowledgment to specific actions in daily life. The work of The Race Relations Station gives us specific practices that enable us to brings about both healing and peace. You can learn of these practices in detail by participating in the resources offered by The Race Relations Station. You can learn more about those resources from Meta’s website: and from The Race Relations Station page on that website.

Liz Huesemann has over 40 years of working in the non-profit world in both administration as well as direct services. She  has been an activist for human rights since she can remember.

Father Dennis Fotinos is an Episcopal priest who, since 1972 has served churches in South Florida, Western North Carolina, Western Louisiana, Pittsburg, PA, and Houston, TX. Since retiring to Asheville, Father Fotinos has been active in issues of racial justice and healing, including helping Meta start The Race Relations Station. He also assists with the Diocese of Western North Carolina in providing guidance to congregations in the search and call process of new clergy.