What Legacy Are We Leaving? Reflections on Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

(This post is a continuation of my previous post on The Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. — for Today.) In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the United States Supreme Court. Despite Holmes’s accomplishments, the single greatest factor that led to his Supreme Court appointment is that in the summer of 1884 Holmes had been one of the few people who publicly stood by his friend Henry Cabot Lodge during a political controversy. Although Holmes did not know it at the time, it … [Read more...]

The Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. — for Today

My tradition of Unitarian Universalism has a habit of making lists of famous UUs. As the saying goes, “We believe in deeds not creeds,” which can prompt us to lift up the lives of our most exemplary ancestors. (Yes, there’s some pride in there as well about all the famous people from history who were Unitarians or Universalists.) So occasionally, I like to invite us to take a closer look at one of those names and consider just how UU were they? And what insights might their life have for us today … [Read more...]

#Trypod: What Is Your Favorite Podcast? Or, Why You Should Start Listening to Podcasts

This month, many podcast producers are partnering together to encourage new listeners to try podcasting for the first time: "Listeners will be asked to share stories of why they listen and their favorite podcasts using the hashtag #trypod. According to Edison Research, one in five Americans listened to podcasts every month as of early 2016 – a number that has grown by double-digits for five years."I used to listen to NPR almost all the time. Now, I sometimes still listen to NPR, but almost ex … [Read more...]

From “The Market as God” to “People, Planet, & Profit”

(This post is a follow-up to my previous post on “The Market as God”:  What Happens with a Theologian Starts Reading the Business Section?) From a historical perspective, the late eighteenth-century philosopher Adam Smith could be considered the patron saint of free market religion. The theologian Harvey Cox jokes that perhaps we should call him “St. Adam of Glasgow” (145). Smith taught that the best way to create a good society is for every person to act selfishly to advance their self-inte … [Read more...]

“The Market as God”: What Happens with a Theologian Starts Reading the Business Section?

Almost a decade ago, the Harvard theologian Harvey Cox published an article titled “The Market as God.” I was interested to learn that he recently expanded his idea into a book of the same name because I’ve read a lot of articles over the years, but this one stuck with me much longer than most because I have found the central insight helpful in understanding certain aspects of our contemporary world. The basic idea is that “free market economics” has come to function in many ways like the idea of … [Read more...]

From “Buddhist Secularity” to “Secular Buddhism”

(The following is part two of a post from yesterday on "What Comes After Buddhism?" inspired by Stephen Batchelor’s latest book After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age.) In the theologically conservative congregation of childhood, I was taught that we should seek to restore the norms of the early church to today’s world. In that paradigm, the Bible was seen as the highest authority, and we were taught to reform the world to be in line with so-called “biblical norms.” In seminar … [Read more...]

What Comes After Buddhism?

My tradition of Unitarian Universalism is known for seeking wisdom from all the world's religions, balanced with the insights of modern science. But in the nineteenth century, most Unitarian and Universalist congregations were not open to the world’s religions equally. Rather, they were often among the most liberal Christian congregations of their time. Compared to most other Christian traditions, nineteenth-century Unitarian and Universalist did tend to allow congregants more room to question tr … [Read more...]

Why Harriet Tubman Still Matters Today

In my previous post on "Why It Matters that Harriet Tubman Will Be on the $20 Bill," I wrote about Tubman's early years. (Both posts are inspired by Catherine Clinton’s excellent 2004 biography Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom.) But history remembers Tubman—and the U.S. Treasury department chose her for the $20 bill—not merely for being an enslaved women who emancipated herself, but for her courage in repeatedly risking re-enslavement in order to free hundreds of other enslaved human beings (7 … [Read more...]

Why It Matters that Harriet Tubman Will Be on the $20 Bill

The year 2020 will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. To commemorate this occasion, the U.S. Treasury Department announced last year that in 2020, Andrew Jackson will be moved to the back of the $20 bill, and Harriet Tubman will be the new face on the front. This change means that African-Americans will appear on our currency for the first time in our nation’s history, and a woman will be featured for the first time in more than a c … [Read more...]

What If Darwin Rewrote the Declaration of Independence?

I posted yesterday on "What Does It Mean that We Are Sapiens? Reflections on Darwin Day." And although there is a lot more to say about the history and implications of our species’s evolution, in reflecting on the implications of what it means to be Sapiens, I would like to consider not only genes, but also what are sometimes called memes. A gene is a region of DNA that is passed down biologically from parent to offspring. From a certain perspective, the more of your DNA that survives, the more y … [Read more...]