Falling Down & Rising Strong

I've posted previously about Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I’m a fan of Brown’s work. Another accessible introduction to Brown’s work is her TED Talks. What I appreciate most about Brown’s work is that she courageously and compassionately addresses topics that most of us have been taught to avoid. Almost two decades ago, she told her husband, “I want to start a global conversation about vulnerability and sha … [Read more...]

Modern Uncertainty: “Meeting the Universe Halfway”

A member of the congregation I serve emailed me recently on the topic about modern uncertainty:In the nineteenth century, Robert Browning could write, “God 's in His heaven — All’s right with the world!” There was a high level of certainty that we were on the path to an earthly paradise. At the dawn of the twentieth century, quantum effects disrupted the view of science that nature was predictable at the most basic level. Wittgenstein questioned whether there indeed were any philosophical q … [Read more...]

Gender Liberation

Last summer, when The United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, we celebrated a watershed moment in the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual equality. And as significant as that victory was, the struggle for equal rights — for equal protection under the law — is not yet complete. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states, “Twenty nine states lack anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation or gender identity, and there is no federal law protecting ac … [Read more...]

The Nightmare of Orlando Haunts, But the Dream of Stonewall Lives On

(The following is a transcript of the speech I delivered Tuesday in Frederick, Maryland at a Candlelight Vigil for Pulse Victims in Orlando.) President Obama, in his “Second Inaugural Address,” said: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.” In that speech, we heard our nation’s highest elected official “name-check the waters … [Read more...]

Why We Should Choose both Religion and Science

As a teenager, when I went to events with my theologically conservative youth group, there were often t-shirts for sale with anti-science slogans like, “I believe in the big bang. God spoke and bang it was.” There was an orientation toward protecting the past: a perception that all the paradigm-shifting religious events had already happened thousands of years ago, and that our role was to defend our belief in those miraculous occasions against emerging understandings which saw these ancient sto … [Read more...]

Best Podcasts for Election 2016

Slate's Political Gabfest - one of my favorite weekly podcasts for a few years now that becomes all-the-more-interesting in a presidential election season. "Voted 'Favorite Political Podcast' by iTunes Listeners. The Gabfest, featuring Slate's Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz, is the kind of informal and irreverent discussion Washington journalists have after hours over drinks." FiveThirtyEight Elections - my new favorite weekly political podcast from the "data wizards" at … [Read more...]

“God Bless America (and No Place Else?!)”: The Uses & Abuses of Civil Religion

Memorial Day has sometimes become merely a three-day holiday weekend, symbolically marking the beginning of the summer vacation season. But the original intent of Memorial Day is an annual time to honor and remember all who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces—not to be confused with Veterans Day in November, which honors all military veterans. For me, Memorial Day includes remembering my great-uncle Wilber, who was killed in action during World War II. And when I think about h … [Read more...]

Beyond “McMindfulness”: How Not To Get Stuck in the Early Stages of Buddhist Meditation

One of my new favorite books is The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science by John Yates, a former Ph.D. professor of neuroscience turned full-time meditation teacher under the name Culadasa (xi). What he does especially well is translate the traditional stages on the path to Buddhist Awakening into a clear, user-friendly manual with many helpful illustrations. For each of the ten stages, there is an emphasis on best practices for that phase … [Read more...]

Julia Ward Howe: Founding Mothers of Unitarian Universalism

I was excited to see that the renown feminist literary critic Elaine Showalter had published a new biography of Julia Ward Howe. If this post piques your interest, I highly recommend the book. To begin with an overview that trances the competing priorities that Julia Ward Howe struggled to balance throughout her life, she:had six children, learned six languages, and published six books.… Born [in 1819], three days after Queen Victoria, she was sometimes called the Queen of America…. When sh … [Read more...]

Struggling to “Speak the Truth in Love” in Election Season: Pluralistic Ethics & Political Polarization

Over the past few decades, many studies have shown a growing political polarization in our country. This widening gap between the right and the left has made finding a middle ground increasingly difficult. So in this presidential election season in which our collective awareness of political polarization is heightened, I would like to reflect on negotiating between divergent perspectives.  There was, for example, a front page headline last week in my hometown paper that read, “Transgender teen s … [Read more...]