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

Rev. Michael DowdEvolutionary Evangelist Michael Dowd has a very good essay titled “Metaphorical gods vs. Reality/God” and I encourage you to go read it. Understand that he is mainly writing for Christians and he is primarily trying to show that evolution is not incompatible with their religion (unless, of course, you’re a fundamentalist who insists on reading the Bible literally – then there’s no hope for you).I’ve found Michael Dowd’s books and presentations to be enlightening, interesting, and even inspiring…. Read more

Today’s question on the Ethical Witches list asks about the nature of the gods. In particular:Are the gods are more or less immortal? Are they so much vaster than we can conceive? Or are the gods a reflection of the culture and people who worship them? Are they in some way dependent on us, or are we dependent upon them? So do they shape us or do we shape them?I’ve heard it said that when belief in a god dies,… Read more

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… Read more

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… Read more

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…. Read more

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… Read more

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