“Do You Really Want to Know?” From Pope Francis & Kim Davis to Copernicus, Darwin, & Marx


The singer-songwriter Peter Mayer’s tune, “Do You Really Want to Know” traces two monumental paradigm shifts in how we humans understand ourselves. The first was the Copernican Revolution in the wake of astronomer Nicolai Copernicus’ 1543 book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, which demonstrated that our planet is not the center of the universe. The sun, moon, and stars do not revolve around us; we are merely the third rock from the sun. And I love Mayer's lyrically imagined conversa … [Read more...]

What Ta-Nehisi Coates Taught Me About “People Who Believe They Are White”


In the book Learning to Be White, the Unitarian Universalist minister and scholar Thandeka writes that, “No one is born white in America” (vii). For many people in the U.S., that claim likely feels either counter-intuitive or perhaps even nonsensical. Elaborating on her view in a later anthology called Soul Work, she writes that although no one is born white,children are born with an innate ability to relate and bond to others…. Children thus have to learn how to internally destroy their ow … [Read more...]

“Unsanctifying Human Life”: Wrestling with Peter Singer’s Ethics


Our human population has septupled (increased sevenfold) in a mere two centuries — from approximately 1 billion in 1800 to more than 7 billion today. The resulting environmental impact of our species is jeopardizing the entire planet’s climate. We have not, however, always been aware of our potential to have a cataclysmic effect on Earth. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about in her Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sixth Extinction, prior to fossil discoveries in the 1700s, we humans didn’t know that a … [Read more...]

“Coming Out of the Broom Closet” #PaganPride


My previous post on "Celebrating Mixed Religion: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Syncretism," explored the impact of Paganism’s encounter with Christianity: from the choice to celebrate Jesus’s birthday near Winter Solstice to Christmas retaining many pagan holiday trappings — from yule logs to feasting to decorating evergreen trees, traditions that pre-date the historical Jesus by millennia. Similarly, we saw the ways the word Easter comes from the fertility goddess Oestre; hence, the … [Read more...]

Celebrating Mixed Religion: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Syncretism


The summer after my freshman year in college, Sarah McLachlan released her album Surfacing. Among the many singles from that album that seemed to be playing on every radio, in every elevator, and in every store was the opening track, “Building a Mystery.” And having spent the past year questioning the conservative Christian theology I had been taught as a child, one line from that ubiquitous song stood out to me — about a man wearing “a cross from a faith that died before Jesus came.” Those lyri … [Read more...]

What’s Next After “Spiritual But Not Religious”?


Editor's Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Faith in America: New Religions. Read other perspectives here. Even seminarians sometimes sleep late and skip church. On such occasions, my classmates and I, if asked, would sometimes joke that we had attended “The Church of the Holy Comforter.” Along these lines, Wendell Berry published a book titled A Timbered Choir of poems inspired by long walks through the woods that he had taken in lieu of attending a Sund … [Read more...]