Protesting as Prayer & Life as a Work of Art: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


The Second of Unitarian Universalism's Six Sources is “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.” In that spirit, I want to share some stories about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972).Rabbi Heschel was one of the great prophetic figures of the twentieth-century. To many observers, it was as if one of the biblical prophets had been reborn in our own day. Instead of … [Read more...]

If You Eat at Restaurants, a Look “Behind the Kitchen Door”

Behind the Kitchen

Sara Jayaraman’s book Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013) is this year’s Unitarian Universalist Association Common Read, a book chosen annually for all UUs to read, discuss, and potentially act on. The book is dedicated “To the more than 10 million restaurant workers nationwide, who struggle daily to feed us.” I recommend this important book as well to all who eat in restaurants and care about the fair treatment of restaurant workers.And early on the author tells the stor … [Read more...]

What Is Yours (Not) To Do?


Two of my favorite quotes have been coming to mind recently as I reflect on the fresh start of a new calendar year. The first quote is from the Roman Catholic monk Thomas Merton, who was both a contemplative, cloistered in a monastery, and an activist, heavily involved in corresponding and meeting in person with those at the forefront of creating social change in the 1960s. In his book, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist...most … [Read more...]

The Promise and Perils of More Yoga in the New Year


My primary new year's resolution for 2014 is "do more yoga." Periodically over the last decade, I've done a fair amount of yoga, primary Ashtanga, which is one of the more athletic forms of yoga, usually done in heated room, and (to oversimplify) keeps a flow by inserting sun salutations in between poses. Part of why I'm drawn to yoga is that it is a both a meditative exercise and an embodied spirituality that gets me out of my head. It is also a great counterbalance to my running … [Read more...]

Slowing Down for the Holidays

present shock

The word“holiday,” it turns out, is a conflation of the words “holy” and “day.”You can see the root words visually, of course, by simply turning the “i” in holiday into a “y.” And, indeed, the original intention of a holiday is to celebrate a holy day,a day “set apart” from our normal routine. And at its best, holidays can be a form of sacred time.Holidays have the potential to be sacramental holy days that reconnect us with the Sacred, the Divine, or the Holy (as we understand and experience … [Read more...]

Best of 2013: Books, Music, Film, and More


The following is a compilation of my recent “Top 10″ and “Best of” posts for 2013. Enjoy! Top 10 Best Books Read in 2013  Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2013 Top 10 “Netflix Instant” Streamed in 2013 Best Netflix DVDs Watched in 2013 Best Podcasts of 2013  Happy holidays to you and yours! Related Posts The Best of 2012: Books, Music, Film, and More The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the  … [Read more...]

Best Podcasts of 2013


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:Buddhist Geeks – A short podcast, averaging only about 20 minutes: “after a few years, and well over a million downloads of the show, it became clear that Buddhist Geeks was something closer to a movement or community, rather than just a podcast.” In the last two years, the Buddhist G … [Read more...]

Best Netflix DVDs Watched in 2013


This list is not my favorite new releases of the year; instead, it is the best of the DVDs I’ve watched from Netflix since this time last year. Although I mostly stream Netflix Instant these days, we've kept the 1-DVD-at-a-time plan to supplement films not yet streaming. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun.1. Game Change (2012): Based on the best-selling nonfiction book, this political drama follows the historic 2008 p … [Read more...]

Top 10 “Netflix Instant” Streamed in 2013


This list is not my favorite new releases of the year; instead, it is the best of the content I watched since this time last year. It also does not include films that I saw in the theater. In addition, this list is in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun:1. Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive: My wife Magin and I both enjoy stand-up comedy, and Aziz has inspired us to watch more stand-up comics in the new year: Red-hot comic Aziz Ansari ("Parks and … [Read more...]

The Hunger Games, the Zombie Apocalypse, and the Meaning of Myths, Old and New


The Greek’s accepted their myths as true in the sense that they were not doubted, but they were not accepted in the way that everyday reality is….  A Greek conventionally put the gods “in heaven,” but he would have been astounded to actually see them in the sky.  He would have been no less astounded if someone using time in its literal sense, told him that Hephaestus had just remarried or that Athena had aged a great deal lately.  Then he would have realized that in his own eyes mythic time had o … [Read more...]