Dissent: For Such a Time as This

(This post is a continuation of yesterday's theme of "Dissent.") When considering the ongoing struggle in this country to genuinely achieve peace, liberty, and justice for all (not merely for some), it is vital to remember that in the beginning of our nation, the deep injustice of slavery was inked into our Constitution. Article I, Section 2 calculates membership in the U.S. House of Representatives based on counting enslaved human beings as “three-fifths” of a person. And Article I, Section 9 e … [Read more...]


In my tradition of Unitarian Universalism, it is significant to recall that this past Wednesday was the 200th anniversary of the birthday of our Unitarian ancestor Henry David Thoreau, who was born on July 12, 1817. Among many examples of dissent in Thoreau’s life, the most famous is that at age twenty-nine, during his time living in a cabin he built at Walden Pond, Thoreau spent the night in jail for nonpayment of a poll tax to protest the use of tax dollars to support slavery and unjust wars ( … [Read more...]

Robots (Not Immigrants) Are Coming for Your Job: Promise & Peril of Dataism as Religion

(This post is a continuation of yesterday's post on “A Brief History of Tomorrow”: What Apple, Facebook, & Google Don’t Want You to Know, inspired by Yuval Harari's book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.) There are positive benefits of big data. Public monitoring based on Google searches, called “Google Flu Trends,” can already give a warning about flu outbreaks “ten days before traditional health services.” It could be even more accurate, of course, if Google also searched private ema … [Read more...]

“A Brief History of Tomorrow”: What Apple, Facebook, & Google Don’t Want You to Know

I have posted previously about the bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari, a professor of world history. His book wrestles with how we humans reached our present state. To take just one data point, a mere 150,000 years ago, there were approximately one million humans alive on earth. Today there are more than 7.3 billion of us, with more than one new human being added to the total each second! So what does the future hold? Will we continue to grow in number and … [Read more...]

Chögyam Trungpa & the Level/Line Fallacy

(This post is a continuation of yesterday's post on "Chögyam Trungpa & Pragmatic, Modern Meditation.") Given my post yesterday about Trungpa's shortcomings, why mention him at all today? The main reason is that despite his seeming ethical violations in some areas, it is nevertheless true that he had a particular genius for presenting traditional Buddhist teachings in a way that was accessible to a Western audience. He was a trailblazer in bringing Buddhism to the West. One significant pa … [Read more...]

Chögyam Trungpa & Pragmatic, Modern Meditation

I have posted previously about my interest in pragmatic approaches to meditation. Such approaches seek to balance the best of traditional Buddhism with all that we know here in the early twenty-first century. One significant figure in this movement (broadly speaking) is Chögyam Trungpa, who died in 1987 at the far too young age of 48 from health complications followings a heart attack. You’ll sometimes hear a title added at the end of his name, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan honorific that m … [Read more...]

The Religion of the Rose

Looking back, the philosopher John Caputo (1940 - ) writes that some of his earliest, strongest, and most visceral memories as a child were looking up at the vast, starry night sky and feeling a creeping suspicion arise within him that, “No one knows we are here.” But he kept those doubts to himself since, as a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic, he was taught that all the answers—and all the questions!—he needed to ask could be found in the Baltimore Catechism (Hoping Against Hope, 1-2). But as he … [Read more...]

Religion & Truth

As an undergraduate, I was a double-major in philosophy and religion. In some ways those two fields are similar—both are interested in exploring the big questions:Who am I? What is the meaning of life? What really matters? Why is there something rather than nothing? What happens after we die?There are also ways in which the two fields are different — as in the classic formulation, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Philosophy literally means love (φιλο/philo) of wisdom … [Read more...]

The Spirituality of Twin Peaks

On April 8, 1990, I was twelve years old. For whatever confluence of events, I tuned in to watch the pilot of Twin Peaks on ABC. The uncanny, surrealist, dream-state quality of the show was unlike anything I had ever seen, a glimpse into how much more was possible beyond the standard-fare network television of the time. The first season transfixed me. The second season confused me. When the show ended after two seasons, I never expected that twenty-five years later, we would get 18 more hours i … [Read more...]

The Legacy of Mary Moody Emerson

This post is a continuation of my previous post on Mary Moody Emerson: Ralph Waldo’s “First & Best Teacher” Mary's independence kept her from being fully comfortable in either the traditional orthodox camp or the new more progressive Transcendentalist movement of her nephew. She was too innovative and free-spirited to be fully comfortable among Calvinists, but there were aspects of traditional Christian theology that she continued to value that kept her from fully embracing her nephew’s Tran … [Read more...]