Comparing Religions: Reflexive Re-Readings

I would like to share some highlights from the conclusion of religion professor Jeffrey Kripal’s book Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms about where we find ourselves here in the early twenty-first century on the other side of the comparative process, having compared the world’s religions in light of both modern science and our own direct experience. In particular, I would like to focus on Kripal’s final chapter, “Reflexive Re-readings: Looking at the Looker.” To begin unpacking that title, th … [Read more...]

Reading Thoreau & Resisting Trump

In researching this post, I learned I have been mispronouncing Thoreau’s name for many years. Growing up, I heard the name pronounced with an emphasis on the second syllable: Thor-OH. But there are passages in the journals of both Thoreau’s aunt and his fellow Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott that the correct pronunciation sounds like “thorough” — as in being thorough in completing a task. And in Thoreau’s hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, school children are taught that, “Thoreau” rhymes with … [Read more...]

Resistance & Resilience for Trump’s Inauguration

I was honored to speak this evening at a Multifaith Candlelight Vigil of Unity & Hope on Inauguration Week in Frederick, Maryland along with local colleagues and politicians. The following is the transcript of my closing words: In the coming days, my prayer for our country is that we find a path toward unity and a future with hope. When I consider how we might find our way toward such a path, I am reminded of the final blessing offered to my seminary class from our Latina Feminist history pr … [Read more...]

As Trump’s Inauguration Approaches: Religious Freedom, Corporate America, & Christian America

Friday will mark the four hundred forty-ninth anniversary of the Edict of Torda. John Sigismund of Transylvania is history’s first and only Unitarian King. And on January 13, 1568 — at a time when many ruling authorities were persecuting or even killing religious dissenters — he passed a landmark “Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience.” Sigismund affirmed the freedom of both congregations and ministers. Congregations were declared free to hire a “preacher whose teaching they approv … [Read more...]

How to Excel at One Hard Thing in 2017

Anders Ericsson is a professor of psychology at Florida State University, who has spent decades studying how people become experts in various fields. He has published a fascinating book summarizing his findings titled Peak — referring to the process of reaching peak performance. Perhaps his most important insight is that the more he investigated people who supposedly had natural talent, the more convinced he became that intense, extended, deliberate practice is always required to develop e … [Read more...]

Best of 2016: Books, Music, TV, & Podcasts

A compilation of my recent “Top 10″ and “Best of” posts for 2016:Top 10 Best Books Read in 2016Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2016 Top 10 Netflix (+Amazon & HBO Now) Streamed in 2016Top 10 Best Podcasts of 2016Enjoy! Thanks for reading, and happy new year to you and yours!Related PostsBest of 2015: Books, Music, TV, & PodcastsBest of 2014: Books, Music, Film, & PodcastsBest of 2013: Books, Music, Film, and MoreThe Best of 2012: Books, Music, … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Podcasts of 2016

The following are the podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to the most consistently since this time last year. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun: 1. 538 - Nate Silver and team offer data-driven perspectives on politics. They were unfairly maligned (I was guilty as well) for giving Trump a much greater chance of victory than almost everyone else — not that they wanted him to win, but that the polls indicated he had a chance. Sadly … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Netflix (+ Amazon Prime & HBO Now) Streamed in 2016

This list is not necessarily my favorite new releases of the year. Instead, it is the best of the content I watched since this time last year. (We haven't have cable in well over a decade, so I'm usually a season behind on most shows; however, waiting means no commercials!) In addition, this list is in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun:1. Better Call Saul (Season 1)2. Bojack Horseman (Season 2)3. The Crown (Season 1) 4. House of … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Christmas: Resistance & Resilience–Then & Now

The last few times Christmas Day fell on a Sunday were 1994, 2005, and 2011. You can mark your calendar for 2022 since it will happen next in six years — and then again in 2033, 2039, 2044, and 2050. In 2050, I realized I would be 72, so I stopped counting there. (I hope to retire at some point!) Rewinding the clock back further to the original Christmas Day, we do not actually know the year much less the day on which Jesus was born. As the historical Jesus scholars Marcus Borg and John D … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2016

This list is not always my favorite new releases; instead, it is the best of the albums I listened to for the first time since last year. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering some of this year's best music:1. The Beatles, Live At The Hollywood Bowl (2016): The sound quality has been significantly improved on this  "remixed, remastered and expanded version of an album previously released in 1977 of two … [Read more...]