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...]

Top 10 Best Books Read in 2016

The following are the top ten best books I’ve read since this time last year — in alphabetical order by the author’s last name because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these books:1. The Rev Dr. William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear (2016): The first Reconstruction briefly flourished after Emancipation, and the second Reconstruction ushered in m … [Read more...]

Reflections on Chrismukah (Christmas+Chanukah) in an Age of Trump

The last time the first night of Chanukah overlapped with Christmas Eve was nearly 40 years ago in 1978. Before that, there were two other times in the twentieth-century: 1902 and 1940. The next time the first night of Chanukah is on Christmas Eve will be 2027. Chanukah is a minor holiday in the Jewish tradition, compared to the importance of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. But Chanukah has grown in popularity and significance due to its proximity to Christmas. The technical term for … [Read more...]

Shadow Work: How to Be More Interesting to Yourself & Less Dangerous to Others

Tomorrow is Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. These days around Winter Solstice are an auspicious time to consider the spirituality of winter and darkness, night and shadow. What might these archetypes have to teach us in this season of our lives? We live in an age of nearly continual temptation to distraction: the siren call of smart phones to constantly check the Internet, the misinformation of fake news, and the diversion of … [Read more...]

What Is “Religion”? (Who Benefits? Who Decides?)

As a Unitarian Universalist minister, part of what I say at the beginning of each Sunday service is that, "We seek to draw wisdom from all the world’s religions, balanced with the insights of modern science.” But what does that mean exactly?  In what sense is Unitarian Universalism a religious movement? And what is “religion” anyway? Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy? Who gets to decide? As a point of comparison regarding what constitutes being religious, let’s begin by considering the Eth … [Read more...]

How to Be Happy (Even in the Age of Trump)

I initially planned this post about happiness as a potentially helpful topic in these days of increasing darkness as we approach Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Now, there is the additional trauma of the coming Trump Administration. So this post is one among many reflections to come on resistance and resilience in the age of Trump. Happiness is a broad word with meanings that can range from the more even-keeled positive emotions of contentment, peacefulness, and gratitude to th … [Read more...]

What’s Fair? Who Decides?

At the congregation I serve as minister, I recently finished teaching a seven-session course on "What's Fair? Who Decides? Navigating the Ethics of Privilege & Oppression." Our textbook was an anthology titled Privilege: A Reader. (In the spirit of full disclosure, many of the essays were moving and meaningful, but others needed to be edited for length, clarity, and academic jargon.) What appealed most to me was that the book went beyond reflections on white privilege and male privilege to i … [Read more...]

“No Permanent Waves”: Rising Up Again after an Election

What do we do when the President-elect of the United States is a bully and a serial liar, who has fanned the flames of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and Islamophobia in our country? My first impulse as a progressive religious leader was to reaffirm that regardless of this or any other election, the congregation I serve will continue to be in solidarity with Muslims, women, refugees, people of color, and people with disabilities. We will continue to advocate for the equal rights of Lesbians, Ga … [Read more...]