On Prayer

Emily Dickinson wrote, Of Course I prayed And did God Care? He cared as much as on the Air A Bird had stampd her foot And cried “Give Me” (#376) I grew up in a praying family. My parents both got on their knees at bedtime and earnestly prayed. We prayed before each meal: a [Read More...]

Love Thy Neighbor As . . . 

There’s an old Buddhist story that goes like this: Once a mother found her baby extremely ill. She was afraid it would die. She had heard that the Buddha was teaching nearby, so she grabbed up her baby and rushed to the Buddha to ask that her baby be healed. “Why do you want your [Read More...]

A Shared Life in a Shared World: #Humanist Economics

Grim Numbers Rising economic inequality. We live in a world in which sixty two human beings at the top own more than the bottom 3.5 billion people. We live in a nation in which—even factoring in the slaves, who owned nothing—the inequality gap today is worse than it was in 1774, two years before the [Read More...]

Relax: #Humanism Is Not Mack the Knife 

Small Humanist groups are popping up and organizing around the US, some as independent groups, some as interest groups within larger Unitarian Universalist congregations. This movement has drawn some interesting reactions . . . I know these reactions well, because one of the oddities about my position as a minister at First Unitarian Society of [Read More...]

Some Accumulated Wisdom for Seminarians 

One of the best aspects of being a senior minister is working with ministers-in-training. I have learned far more from seminarians than they have learned from me. Here are some things I’ve gleaned over the years: #1. Hear the wisdom of the congregation. (#hivemind) #2. Be you . . . but be getting better. (#cultured) [Read More...]

#Apatheism

This year First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis is celebrating a century of humanism. Rev. John Dietrich, often called the father of religious humanism, was called as minister to the congregation in 1916. Dietrich had already been tried for heresy and had declared himself humanist in his previous congregation, so the folks in Minneapolis knew what [Read More...]

Redefining #Religion: You Might Be a Religious Naturalist

  The Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion defines religion this way: From the Latin relegare (“to bind fast”), typically the term refers to an institution with a recognized body of communicants who gather together regularly for worship, and accept a set of doctrines offering some means of relating the individual to what is taken to [Read More...]

Some Slack for the Tense on the Holidays

I know, I know—some people just love the holiday season—“the hap-, hap-, happiest time of the year” and all that. Good for you. Some of us don’t feel so well this time of year. Perhaps it is the prohibitive distance to visit loved ones; perhaps it is grief over lost loved ones; perhaps it’s that [Read More...]

Why Would Anyone Want to be a Minister?

My mother says I was born serious. Could be. For example, I remember that when I was six or seven one of the neighborhood kids slapped me. I turned the other cheek. Because . . . well, I went to Sunday school is why. I was a serious kid. (Or at least a kid who [Read More...]

Do Your Religion a Favor: Live Up to Its Principles 

I meet monthly with the Downtown Senior Clergy of Minneapolis. This week we listened to one of the imams in the group describing increasing violence toward Muslims. Last weekend cars in the masjid’s parking lot were spray painted and otherwise damaged. Women wearing the hijab have been sworn at and confronted in public spaces. Muslim [Read More...]


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