“The Righteous Mind” and the Democratic Process

The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up—ever—trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy? The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the … [Read more...]

Change We Can Believe In? The Obama Question

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and … [Read more...]

Mitt Romney, Mormonism, and Book of Mormon: The Musical

Beliefs are an important part of religion, but they are by no means its only — or often even its central — element. Mormonism also represents a community, a set of social practices, a set of moral strictures, a set of aesthetic responses, a sense of historical identity, a set of friendships, a series of covenants or commitments, in many cases a set of family relationships, a liturgy, an institutional structure, a set of overlapping intellectual discourses, and so on. A Latter-day Saint’s commi … [Read more...]

Letter to the Editor: “Minister says yes to same-sex marriage”

The following is the text of my letter to the editor, which was published in today's Frederick News-Post:I am writing in response to an article published on Sept. 29 -- "Area congregations weigh in for, against same-sex marriage."As the new minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, I was encouraged to see a number of my colleagues publicly supporting same-sex marriage rights in Maryland.The Unitarian Universalist Association has an ongoing public advocacy … [Read more...]

Do We Need a Moratorium on the Word “God”?

I have been trying to find a way of being religious that’s still possible (or maybe the word is “decent”) for us. What would it be like to be religious without fudging our best thoughts, without repressing anything we have learned...? What would it be like to be religious when we can’t really believe any of that glorious stuff — creation ex nihilo, virgin birth, bodily resurrection — we used to believe? It’s not decent, I think, to pretend to believe it, or to do a fancy philosophical number on “ … [Read more...]

Does “The Master” Have Clothes?

I want to like Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master, and perhaps my expectations were too high. If so, they were high for good reason: Anderson has set such a lofty bar with his previous work.I haven't seen his first feature-length film Hard Eight (1996), but since seeing Boogie Nights (1997) on DVD, I've eagerly anticipated each of his subsequent theatrical releases. I loved both Magnolia (1999) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002). And 2007's There Will Be Blood was easily my favorite film of … [Read more...]