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...]

Native American Spiritualities: Appropriation and Reciprocity

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka , and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made … [Read more...]

Water Communion: “A River Runs through It”

Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the … [Read more...]