Top 10 Best Books Read in 2013


The following are the top ten best books I’ve read since this time last year. The list is 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. Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness: Each year, the Unitarian Universalist Association selects a “Common Read” for all UUs to study, discuss, and act upon. The 2012-2013 selection was Alexander's powerful call … [Read more...]

Living the Questions


One of my professors used to say that his favorite time of the year was the last week of each semester. He called it “A Time of Great Synthesis.” He said he could almost feel it in the air: the energy of students preparing for final papers and exams, striving to weave all the disparate strands of knowledge learned during the term into a coherent tapestry. At the time, I used to sometimes roll my eyes when he would say things like that because I was wearily in the midst of studying. At the same ti … [Read more...]

JFK, Sorenson, and Unitarian Universalism

I was reading an article recently on "The Tyranny of Excellence," which concludes with a fascinating passage about Unitarian Universalist influences on President Kennedy. This Friday's 50th Anniversary of Kennedy's tragic assassination seems like an appropriate occasion to share these words, which are from a review of Ted Sorenson’s book Counselor, A Life on the Edge History. Sorensen was a legendary speech writer for Kennedy as well as a trusted advisor, but it is less well known that Ted S … [Read more...]

Lost Christianities and Banned Books of the Bible


I would like to invite you to reflect on your relationship over time with what is sometimes called the “canonical Bible”: the version of the Bible that we are most accustomed to seeing, with all the books that weren’t banned, were chosen by the group that became Christian orthodoxy, and were eventually anthologized together into the book we know as “The Bible.”(As a brief aside, I should perhaps note that the word Bible itself betrays that it is nothing more than an anthology of books. The wo … [Read more...]

New Lectionary Resource for Progressive Christians


December 1, 2013 marks the beginning  of a new three-year lectionary cycle in Christian congregations. For a new perspective on these texts, this guest post is from a member of my congregation, who is in the middle of publishing a trilogy of resources: Theology from Exile: Commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary for an Emerging Christianity by Sea Raven, D.Min.:Volume 1 The Year of Luke (published January 2013)Volume 2 The Year of Matthew (September 2013)Volume 3 The Year of M … [Read more...]

After Trauma & Loss: What (Not) To Say

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

This summer I took a unit of CPE ("Clinical Pastoral Education"), which is a continuing education program that helps reflect on becoming more compassionately present to others. My experience reaffirmed for me the old saying that, “Intention does not equal impact.” In other words, even with the best of intentions, the impact of our words and deeds may unintentionally wound another. Along those lines, the following are a few highlights from my CPE training offered in the hope that others may also f … [Read more...]

Tweeting John Caputo’s “The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps”


John Caputo is one of my favorite philosophers of religion. His writing is delightfully playful and creative as well as deeply profound and insightful.For an extended review of his latest book The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps, see the Theo-Blogger tour, which covers each chapter in turn.Instead of trying to duplicate that impressive effort, the following are some passages that I tweeted as I read the book because they particularly stood out to me as significant: "I do not … [Read more...]

Pagan Reflections on the Season of Samhain: Speaking to the Spark within the Darkness


Yesterday, I posted on Scarred, Scared, and Sacred: Spiritual Practices for the Fall Triduum of Halloween, Samhain, and All Souls Day. Continuing on the theme of that post, this reflection is a guest post from Irene Jericho, a member of my congregation at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland, and a leader of our Earth-centered Spirituality ("UU Pagan") group. When I was 13, one of my closest friends lost a lengthy battle with childhood leukemia.  It was my first big … [Read more...]

Scarred, Scared, and Sacred: Spiritual Practices for the Fall Triduum of Halloween, Samhain, and All Souls Day


Can you feel the Wheel of the Year turning?Can you feel fall in the air — the chilling breeze and changing leaves, the tell tale signs of winter’s coming?In this season of each day growing incrementally shorter, can you sense our inexorable movement, here in the Northern Hemisphere, toward Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year?If you imagine the year as a circle, our Western, secular calendar marks four major seasonal turning points: Winter Solstice (the darkest day of the yea … [Read more...]

Cisgender and Transgender


Most people are more familiar with the term transgender than with the term cisgender. The term transgender came first, adding the Latin prefix “trans-” (meaning, “across from” or “on the other side of”) to the word gender to indicate a person, whose gender identity or gender expression does not match their biological sex.Cisgender was coined as a complementary term from the Latin prefix cis-, (meaning “on this side of”), indicating a person, whose gender identity and gender expression for the … [Read more...]