“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...]

What Does It Mean that We Are Sapiens? Reflections on Darwin Day

This past Sunday was Charles Darwin’s birthday. He was born a little more than two hundred years ago on February 12, 1809. (Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln also has the same birthday and birth year.) In recent years, Darwin’s birthday has become known as International Darwin Day, an annual opportunity to celebrate the principles of “perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth” that guided his life. A tragedy of the ongoing “Creationism vs. Evolution” debate is that coming to ter … [Read more...]

How to Cultivate a Culture of Dignity

The opening lines of the Roman Catholic Catechism affirm that, “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.” The First Principle of Unitarian Universalism makes an even more radical claim for “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” irrespective of anything else. In 1961, when the American Unitarian Association consolidated with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, we originally had Six Princip … [Read more...]

The Great End of Religious Instruction: The Legacy of William Ellery Channing

I first heard of Unitarian Universalism in college. Our UU student group was called the Channing Circle. But I had no idea who Channing was. Less transparently, I came to discover that some of the oldest and largest UU congregations also owe their names to Channing. All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C and the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City (both of which are close to a thousand members each) as well as the 1,800-member All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma — tha … [Read more...]

Islamophobia & Democracy Are Incompatible; Muslims Are Beloved Neighbors

I was honored to speak tonight at the Frederick Islamic Center for the Solidarity with Our Muslim Neighbors rally. The following were my brief reflections: Thank you all for showing up to support our Muslim neighbors here in Frederick, Maryland. The normal everyday lives our world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is rarely seen on the news, film, or tv. Islamophobia, like homophobia, includes the word phobia because it is a fear that is exaggerated out of proportion to the reality of who our Muslim n … [Read more...]