The Dreaded Knock on the Door

There is a Jehovah’s Witness “Kingdom Hall” less than a mile from my house – less than half a mile if you cut through alleys and back yards. So it should come as no surprise that this morning – while I was preparing for tonight’s Imbolc circle – I finally got the dreaded knock on the door.There were two middle-aged men and a very young boy, who handed me the customary copy of The Watchtower (I can never see that name without hearing a Wiccan calling “Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East … [Read more...]

The Limits of Wisdom Teaching

Another interesting bit from yesterday was Rev. Loehr’s comments on the Jesus Seminar, where he was the only Unitarian fellow. In general he was complimentary toward the goals and the results of the Seminar, but he had a legitimate concern.When you strip Jesus of the virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection, what you have left is a Wisdom teacher. And when you focus only on the Wisdom, you lose the distinctive elements of Christianity. To a certain extent, that’s not bad – think of all the confl … [Read more...]

Salvation by Character

This afternoon Rev. Dr. Davidson Loehr led a seminar on “The Ancient Origins of Liberal Religion.” He began with examples of altruistic behavior in the animal world. He talked about the epic of Gilgamesh, the great religions of the Axial Age, the Greek-influenced writings of Origen and Augustine, and Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who is regarded as the father of modern liberal religion. All of these sources deal with the question of “how to live a good life” and, as Rev. Loehr continu … [Read more...]

Hymn to Her

I was always a big fan of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, but I had never heard Hymn to Her until tonight. An excerpt from it was included in a collection of songs in A Pagan Testament, which is a collection of literary sources of contemporary Paganism I'm reading right now.I couldn't turn up any commentary from Chrissie, and the lyrics are rather vague. But some of them are unmistakably Pagan, such asKeep beckoning to meFrom behind that closed doorThe maid and the motherAnd the crone that's … [Read more...]

Letter to President Obama

Isaac Bonewits is one of the most prolific Pagan writers, leaders, and elders in America today. Since 2004, he has led a YahooGroup titled “Spells For Democracy” which works magic for Truth, Justice, and the American Way; following in the tradition of Gerald Gardner’s Operation Cone of Power during World War II.What follows is a letter Isaac has written to President Barack Obama and posted on the list. Isaac graciously gave permission to forward the letter – I am reproducing it in its entiret … [Read more...]

Animal Rights and the Food Chain

An entry on the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog has sparked a small debate about animal rights. Read the blog entry if you want the whole conversation and links to the larger story about an Obama appointee who has said some reasonable but (to some folks) controversial things on the subject.Here are my thoughts:All things have inherent value that is independent of their usefulness to humans. With that inherent value comes certain rights which at minimum include not being needlessly harmed or … [Read more...]

Everyone Welcome – Even Now

Rev. Chris Buice is minister of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, the site of the shooting last summer that killed two people and wounded six others. This week, he has an essay in Newsweek magazine’s “My Turn” feature. Here’s a brief excerpt:the question keeps coming back: “Shall we return hatred for hatred?” Anyone who has endured a brutal act of violence will know the temptation. Our congregation's experience, however, offers a cautionary tale. The man who brought violence to our … [Read more...]

A Deeper UU Spiritual Practice

Here’s an article on UU World that picks up a topic I’ve been discussing with Rev. Diana: what would a Unitarian Universalist spiritual practice look like?Members of every religious community differ widely in their interest in spiritual practice. Some simply want to belong. Some get all they need from Sunday services. Others add Adult RE. But in the UU world, if you want more than that, if you want a structured program of spiritual exploration and depth, the only real option is to go to seminary … [Read more...]