The Briefcase Test

Anne Hill at Blog o’ Gnosis has an interesting piece up called “Does Your Religion Pass the Briefcase Test?” It’s inspired by a story about Scientology and some absurd levels of secrecy:When you reach an exalted level of Scientology, you bring your own locked briefcase to a desk, someone puts a few sheets of paper into it, you go to a secure room, unlock the briefcase, and then you can read these documents—once—before returning them the same way.I have no experience with Scientology. Based on w … [Read more...]

Authority, Part 2

Legitimate authority needs no enforcement mechanism – its power flows from the rightness of its decisions. Arbitrary authority is meaningless without the power to enforce its decisions. And many authority issues have nothing to do with laws and the power of government. What power do authorities in the common world have – what can they really do? Soup Nazis may be able to keep you from getting their soup, but they can’t throw you in jail. I think many of our authority issues with people like … [Read more...]

Authority, Part 1

I have authority issues.That doesn’t exactly make me unique. Pagans and Unitarian Universalists tend towards anti-authoritarian, anti-hierarchical views. Combine the two and those views can verge toward anarchy… which creates another set of problems. In any case, while I have no intention of psychoanalyzing myself on the blog, I do think there’s some value in looking deeper into authority and our relationship with it.DefinitionsThe consensus of several online dictionaries is that “authority” … [Read more...]

Dangerous Religion

Sermon – Dangerous Religion by John BeckettFirst Jefferson Unitarian Universalist ChurchMarch 6, 2011Introduction – Lukewarm Religion I grew up in a small, conservative Baptist church, where they preached the Bible was the literal and inerrant Word of God. When I got old enough to start thinking about that, I realized I had some issues with what they were preaching – issues that eventually led to me become a Unitarian Universalist. I imagine many of you had similar experiences. Some things see … [Read more...]

Control is an Illusion

I enjoy hearing about why people believe what they believe. That’s a question many people can’t answer, because they’ve never seriously questioned what they’ve always been taught.While browsing the Patheos website, I came across this essay titled “Control is an Illusion – Why I’m a Calvinist.” It’s by David French, whose bio says “is a lawyer, writer, soldier, and veteran of the Iraq war.” As a war veteran, French has experienced things most of us – thankfully – never will. Those experiences … [Read more...]

Morning Walk

photo from I don’t have the equipment to take pictures like this, plus I was out to exercise and be in Nature, not to take picturesThe waning crescent Moon rose low in the Southeastern sky, Venus shining brilliantly three fingers ahead of it, two of many lights in the night sky. Then the Eastern horizon lightened and the Sun rose until only it and these two remained. We are a part of this great cosmic dance of bright and dark, shining and fading and shining again, rising and s … [Read more...]

Reasonable Doubt

The title segment of the most recent Standing Stone and Garden Gate podcast concerns reasonable doubt. Brendan Myers does an excellent job of explaining the role of doubt in examining and interpreting our beliefs and experiences. The philosophical tools he presents are invaluable in the attempt to live a life of integrity, but I believe their ultimate usefulness is more limited than Brendan apparently does.Brendan talks about the concept of “reasonable doubt,” best known in the criminal legal s … [Read more...]

Pagan Unity

If you aren’t listening to the Standing Stone and Garden Gate podcast, you should be. It’s done by Brendan Myers – a Druid and philosopher, and his partner Juniper – a hedgewitch. It is the most intellectually-oriented Pagan podcast I’ve come across. Brendan and Juniper approach Paganism very differently, and the interplay between them is excellent. The most recent Episode 28 is titled “Reasonable Doubt.” I’ll have more to say about doubt in a future blog post, but today I want to talk about … [Read more...]