Dar Williams is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. And one of her many memorable songs is titled “I Won’t Be Your Yoko Ono.” As a feminist, she questions the often one-sided criticism that Yoko Ono (1933 – ) should be blamed for distracting John Lennon (1940-1980) from his career as a musician: I wonder if Yoko Ono Ever thought of staying solo … If she doubted John Lennon Worrying that he’d distract her art In the background of this song… Read more

This past year was the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride. And although I have seen this movie quite a few times over the years, prior to rewatching it last week, I probably hadn’t seen it in more than a decade. In revisiting the film, I was reminded of how great the cast is. The stars include: Fred Savage at age eleven—a year before the first episode of The Wonder Years—as the sick grandson to whom the story of The… Read more

A few weeks ago, my wife and I heard a knock on our door around 8 p.m. At that time of night—and given the extremely cold weather—I assumed that the only person who could possibly be outside was someone delivering a package. I was wrong. As I opened the door, I was greeted by two people interested in sharing their religion with me. (It doesn’t matter which flavor of religion. There are actually a few different possibilities it could be—all… Read more

In the theologically conservative church of my childhood, I was asked to believe some fairly paradoxical claims about Jesus: that he was both “fully human and fully divine”—and that he was “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The intention of such teachings was to set him apart as special and holy. But it always seemed to be that it set him in another league—not even playing the same sport—as the rest of us. (How impressive is it to… Read more

As the saying goes, one of the reasons we study our past is that, although history does not necessarily repeat itself precisely, it does tend to rhyme. And in that spirit, I would like to invite us to reflect on the upcoming 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda, a landmark“Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience” enacted by history’s only Unitarian king, John Sigismund Zápolya of Transylvania (1540-1571), which is in modern day Romania. On January 13, 1568… Read more

Here we are again: at the beginning of another year. Over 365 days, our species and this planet took another circle around the sun. What did you learn on that journey through 2017? And in light of those lessons, what do you want more of in your life in 2018? And what do you want less of? Along these lines, I appreciated a recent meditation from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign: I know I need to say no sometimes.  I… Read more

The following are the top ten best books I’ve read since this time last year — in alphabetical order by the author’s last name because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these books: 1. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels(Princeton University Press, 2017):  assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view… Read more

Fifty years ago, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) invited The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to deliver the renowned Massey Lectures, a series of talks broadcast live over the radio that continues annually to this day. And whereas some lectureships have a narrow focus, the tradition of the Massey Lectures is broad. Speakers are asked to “explore the ideas that make us who we are and ask the questions that make us better human beings.” If you are interested… Read more

Cass Sunstein is a Harvard Professor who also happens to be the most frequently-cited legal scholar in America by a wide margin. I first learned about him in 2008 through his bestselling book Nudge, which he co-authored with Richard Thaler, who recently won the Nobel Prize for economics. It’s a fascinating study of how we can tweak systems in our world to—you guessed it—nudge people toward making better decisions. I bring up Sunstein because last year I was delighted to… Read more

Carrie Newcomer is a Quaker singer-songwriter. And there is a line from one of her songs that has lingered with me since I first heard it a few years ago. She laments—or maybe she confesses—that we’ve “Been traveling faster than our souls can go.” Can you relate? In our globalized, always-connected, Internet Age, I suspect that at some point most of us have found ourselves “traveling faster than our souls can go.” Don’t get me wrong. I like to move… Read more

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