A Spiritual Practice for Responding to Relentless Bad News

Like Alice in Wonderland, it feels as if we have passed through the looking-glass. Or maybe we have slid into an alternate dimension of The Twilight Zone. Donald Trump has become president of the United States. And as the pundits say, elections matter. All manner of bad news has followed from Trump's election: bad news for the climate, bad news for human rights, bad news for democratic and Constitutional norms, bad news for all who value honesty and integrity. In these days of relentless bad new … [Read more...]

Is There a Hidden Political Allegory in The Wizard of Oz?

Frank Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900. He wrote thirteen additional Oz books, and the film adaptation staring Judy Garland was released in 1939. Broadway's The Wiz opened in 1975 on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the original book. I've recently been exploring the allegorical interpretations of that mythology through Ranjit Dighe's The Historian's Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory. The al … [Read more...]

Why Eugenics Is Wrong and Why It Still Matters Today

(This post is a follow-up to my post from yesterday on "Eugenics, Then & Now: Immigration, Health Care, & Illiberal Progressives.") The supporters of the eugenics movement were primarily “progressives, intellectuals, and professionals” who strongly believed in both Darwinian Evolution and the power of modern science to reshape society for the better (Cohen 71). Without getting into all the intricacies of genetic engineering, one vital distinction is whether one is making this choice for … [Read more...]

Eugenics, Then & Now: Immigration, Health Care, & Illiberal Progressives

Last week, we explored the life and legacy of one of our famous Unitarian ancestors, the Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. When Holmes died in 1935, his obituary was featured on the front page of the New York Times under the headline, “Chief Liberal” (Cohen 317). But as we explored last week, although Holmes did occasionally help lead the court to a strong defense of civil liberties and individual freedom, he was not as progressive as his admirers sometimes let themselves think. An … [Read more...]

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...]