What Do We Mean We When Say, “Building the Beloved Community”?

BrookFarm

In progressive religious circles, you will often hear calls to “build the Beloved Community,” but I’m not sure we always appreciate the full historic resonance of that phrase. The term “Beloved Community” was coined by the early twentieth-century American philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916). But most of us learned it not from Royce but from The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who often spoke of the “Beloved Community” as his ultimate goal. As an early example, after the Montgomery Bus Boycott … [Read more...]

The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity: Theodore Parker and the Transcendentalist Revolt

AmericanHeretic

“[I invite you to] imagine you are in Boston some summer Sunday morning in the mid 1850s. You decide to go hear Theodore Parker, the famous Transcendentalist minister, preach to the 28th Congregational Society. Having never been, you arrange to accompany a friend who attends regularly. As the two of you turn the corner from Tremont onto Winter Street, you are struck by the sheer size of the crowd gathered there. The sight of nearly three thousand people massing for a routine religious service i … [Read more...]

“The Selma Awakening”

Selma

I have posted previously on “Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall: Claiming Our Social Justice Story” in which I invited us to reflect on the activist legacy in this country. And today during the 50th anniversary month of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the core questions I will be inviting us to reflect on is when the calls come to take action for social, economic, and environmental justice, will we stand up, will we speak up, will we show up? To begin to set the stage historically, when you think o … [Read more...]

Rosa Parks: The Rest of the Story

Parks

One of many reasons why the film Selma is so riveting is that it focuses much more on the behind-the-scene dynamics of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches than the more familiar public events. And the often-hidden background is what I would like to focus on in this post. Among the many important and significant figures that made Dr. King’s leadership possible, I would like to share with you about “Rosa Parks: The Rest of the Story.” I’ll be drawing from an important new biography published in 2013 by … [Read more...]

Did the Exodus Happen? And What It Means Today

Exodus

Ridley Scott, is the director of such classic films as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator. So when I heard that Scott, who is a self-described atheist, had been given a $140 million budget to make a film of the biblical Exodus story, my curiosity was piqued. It’s been almost sixty years, since Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, so we were probably due for a update using twenty-first century special effects. Now, if you, like me, are a huge religion nerd, then this fil … [Read more...]

Building the Beloved Community: Anti-racism and Multiculturalism in a Local Congregation

Been cover.indd

Blackmail, blacklist, black mark. Black Monday, black mood, black-hearted. Black plague, black mass, black marketGood guys wear white, bad guys wear black. We fear black cats, and the Dark Continent. But it's okay to tell a white lie, lily-white hands are coveted, it's great to be pure as the driven snow.Angels and brides wear white. Devil's food cake is chocolate; angel's food cake is white!We shape language and we are shaped by it. In our culture, white is esteemed. It is heavenly, … [Read more...]


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