Something I forgot to include in the last entry: the challenge for religious groups is to recognize these three levels and to simultaneously speak to different people who are at different levels. A church needs to minister to people who are in the literal stage, people who are in the ethical stage, and people who are in the spiritual stage.That’s a tall order, particularly in a religiously plural society like ours where people change churches or change religions if things… Read more

At his seminar on The Ancient Roots of Liberal Religion, Rev. Davidson Loehr said that Christian church father Origen (185-254) wrote that religion works on three levels: the literal, the ethical, and the spiritual. I think that’s very true, and I want to expand on the concept.A disclaimer – other than some brief summaries and a very quick scan of “De Principiis,” I haven’t read Origen, so I don’t mean for this to be a critique or a derivative of… Read more

I just finished reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. It’s prep work for a Sunday service I’m leading in April tenatively titled “The Hero’s Journey, Part II.” I’ll have more to say on that later. For now, here’s a quote I found particularly helpful:We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the… Read more

Christians have Lent, Jews have Yom Kippur, and Muslims have Ramadan. All are seasons of prayer, fasting, and introspection. At their best, their purpose is purification and simplification; they are a time to set aside the mundane and focus hearts and minds on the spiritual and the sacred.Does Paganism need its own season of introspection? I think the answer is “yes.” Even those of us who have established consistent daily practices find it too easy to get into a mundane… Read more

“The Meaning of Unitarian Universalism” is the rather ambitious (but appropriate, on a couple of levels) title of yesterday’s sermon by DUUF Minister Emeritus Rev. Don Fielding. And while I don’t intend to review or critique Don’s sermon, he did have a couple good ideas that I want to expand on.Don is a Religious Naturalist. I still remember the forceful conclusion to his retirement sermon in 2003: “there is only the natural world, and it is enough.” Yet while he’s… Read more

Via WitchVox, here’s an amusing story from my hometown of Chattanooga. The bad news is that some Pagans were behaving in a rather irresponsible manner. The good news is that the cop who responded had some knowledge of what he was dealing with and wasn’t interested in a religious argument.Some of the comments on the Chattanooga Pulse site and on WitchVox are saying “this is why I’m a solitary.” Certainly, morons like this are an embarrassment, but that just motivates… Read more

Most of us don’t know about it or choose to ignore it, but each Saturday the President gives a radio address, a fairly short speech on what’s going on in Washington and what he thinks the priorities should be.Last Saturday, President Obama ended his address with a quote from President John F. Kennedy:“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”Substitute “work… Read more

Gus diZerega keeps a Pagan blog on Beliefnet. In an entry inspired by a wider debate on abortion and the Bible, he discussed the limitations and dangers of sacred texts. As always, I encourage you to go read the whole thing for yourself.diZerega basically says that sacred texts have two flaws. The first is that writing freezes a tradition at the point at which it is written down – it becomes an artifact and ceases to evolve with the culture… Read more

New Scientist magazine has an interesting article titled “Born believers: How your brain creates God.” I encourage you to go read it – it’s not particularly long. Here are some excerpts with my commentary:It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human.That’s pretty obvious. But why are humans innately religious? Why do we believe in… Read more

I just finished reading The First Word by Christine Kenneally, which was a birthday present last month (thanks, Cynthia!). It’s an excellent summary of the state of knowledge and the on-going debates in the study of language evolution, a relatively new field where most of the work has been done in the past 15 years or so. If you’re interested in the subject, I highly recommend you read it yourself. I also recommend The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker and… Read more

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