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...]

Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2013


This list is not my favorite new releases; instead, it is the best of the albums I listened to since this time last year. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these albums:Alt-J, An Awesome Wave: Named after the keystroke for making a delta (i.e., triangle) sign on a Mac by holding down the Alt and J keys, the Leeds, England–based trio Alt-J is inspired by the symbol’s mathematical definition of cha … [Read more...]

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 b … [Read more...]