Why Harriet Tubman Still Matters Today

In my previous post on "Why It Matters that Harriet Tubman Will Be on the $20 Bill," I wrote about Tubman's early years. (Both posts are inspired by Catherine Clinton’s excellent 2004 biography Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom.) But history remembers Tubman—and the U.S. Treasury department chose her for the $20 bill—not merely for being an enslaved women who emancipated herself, but for her courage in repeatedly risking re-enslavement in order to free hundreds of other enslaved human beings (7 … [Read More...]

Why It Matters that Harriet Tubman Will Be on the $20 Bill

The year 2020 will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. To commemorate this occasion, the U.S. Treasury Department announced last year that in 2020, Andrew Jackson will be moved to the back of the $20 bill, and Harriet Tubman will be the new face on the front. This change means that African-Americans will appear on our currency for the first time in our nation’s history, and a woman will be featured for the first time in more than a c … [Read More...]

What If Darwin Rewrote the Declaration of Independence?

I posted yesterday on "What Does It Mean that We Are Sapiens? Reflections on Darwin Day." And although there is a lot more to say about the history and implications of our species’s evolution, in reflecting on the implications of what it means to be Sapiens, I would like to consider not only genes, but also what are sometimes called memes. A gene is a region of DNA that is passed down biologically from parent to offspring. From a certain perspective, the more of your DNA that survives, the more y … [Read More...]

What Does It Mean that We Are Sapiens? Reflections on Darwin Day

This past Sunday was Charles Darwin’s birthday. He was born a little more than two hundred years ago on February 12, 1809. (Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln also has the same birthday and birth year.) In recent years, Darwin’s birthday has become known as International Darwin Day, an annual opportunity to celebrate the principles of “perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth” that guided his life. A tragedy of the ongoing “Creationism vs. Evolution” debate is that coming to ter … [Read More...]

How to Cultivate a Culture of Dignity

The opening lines of the Roman Catholic Catechism affirm that, “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.” The First Principle of Unitarian Universalism makes an even more radical claim for “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” irrespective of anything else. In 1961, when the American Unitarian Association consolidated with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, we originally had Six Princip … [Read More...]

The Great End of Religious Instruction: The Legacy of William Ellery Channing

I first heard of Unitarian Universalism in college. Our UU student group was called the Channing Circle. But I had no idea who Channing was. Less transparently, I came to discover that some of the oldest and largest UU congregations also owe their names to Channing. All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C and the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City (both of which are close to a thousand members each) as well as the 1,800-member All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma — tha … [Read More...]

Islamophobia & Democracy Are Incompatible; Muslims Are Beloved Neighbors

I was honored to speak tonight at the Frederick Islamic Center for the Solidarity with Our Muslim Neighbors rally. The following were my brief reflections: Thank you all for showing up to support our Muslim neighbors here in Frederick, Maryland. The normal everyday lives our world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is rarely seen on the news, film, or tv. Islamophobia, like homophobia, includes the word phobia because it is a fear that is exaggerated out of proportion to the reality of who our Muslim n … [Read More...]

Resisting Trump: One Book, One Podcast, One Daily Action

 As dire as our political situation may be, as I heard a colleague say recently, it is vital to remember not only that we must pace ourselves for a marathon (not a sprint), but also that "this is a relay race." We are in this struggle together, and we need to hand off the baton to maintain resistance and resilience for the long haul. To empower your discernment of what your part might be in understanding and responding to such a time as this, the following are the resources I am finding … [Read More...]

How Ordinary Spirituality Can Transform Your Life

Richard Linklater is the director of such contemporary cinema classics as Dazed and  Confused (about a last day of high school in the 1970s), School of Rock (about Jack Black inspiring a classroom of fourth graders to enter a Battle of the Bands), and the Before Trilogy (about the relationship over time between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy). Of those films, the Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight) is where we first began to see Linklater’s willingness to risk pl … [Read More...]

Cesar Chavez: How David Can Win in the Age of #Trump

For seven years, I had the privilege each summer of being a counselor at a two-week Summer Institute for incoming college freshmen. The title of the program was “You Bet Your Life: Theological Explorations of Vocation,” and our goal was to equip these young people with tools, frameworks, and experiences to begin discerning both their gifts and how they might best be able to change the world for the better. (We are “betting our life” with each choice that we make on how to spend our time and talen … [Read More...]