Letting Go of Fear & Celebrating Differences: Insights from Intersectionality

Intersection (photo credit: Carl Gregg)

This past Sunday was the 70th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on the  Japanese city of Nagasaki toward the end of World War II. The weapon, nicknamed “Fat Man,” was released at 11:01 a.m. local time, causing tens of thousands of civilian casualties. (The even more devastating bombing of Hiroshima was three days earlier.) This anniversary of the only time to date that atomic bombs have been used in warfare comes at a time when headlines are being made worldwide concerning … [Read more...]

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


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


“[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”


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...]

An Honest Heretic: Religion, Science, & Dr. Joseph Priestley


The future free-thinking minister-scientist Joseph Priestley was born in 1733 to a strict Calvinist family, but by his early twenties he was already experimenting boldly with both theology and science.  For the purposes of this post, I will be drawing from the an excellent, accessible, and lively introduction to Priestley, Steven Johnson’s 200-page book The Invention of Air. (If that book leaves you interested in learning more, there is also a recent two-volume biography by Robert Schofield from … [Read more...]

Winter Solstice Spirituality: “Learning to Walk in the Dark”


My favorite season is summer, but I aspire to love the winter. Winter and I are on better terms we used to be, there’s still work to do. As with many other people, when the seasons change, I can feel a difference in how I relate to the world. For the past few years, I’ve kept an exercise log. And I noticed recently that, starting around mid-November — as the days started growing darker and colder —  I stopped exercising for almost a month while hardly noticing. I’m now back in the game, but the … [Read more...]