Getting It Right Like the BCE

There was an important question that the older Greek and Roman philosophies asked that stopped being asked after the rise of Christianity. That question is this: Is the search for god and the search for truth the same thing? Is the search for god and the search for truth the same thing? I spend a [Read More…]

Hey, UU, Time For a Redo

Fear. Anxiety. It’s free-floating among those of a liberal bent these days. This week has seen more turmoil in the Unitarian Universalist Association. It’s time to do some breathing. Let’s go back a bit in time: When our evolutionary forebears crawled out of the warm, salty sea and set out to make a go of it [Read More…]

Assumptions are Imaginary But They’re not Social

In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin wrote, Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden. From this void—ourselves—it is [Read More…]

An Antidote to Racial Theatre

Review of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. New York: Broadway Books, 2017. Whatever your political leanings, Democracy in Black is an essential book. Princeton University history professor Eddie Glaude mixes the gravitas of an academic historian with the brio of a concerned citizen writing a [Read More…]

Dreaming White

An acquaintance (who is white) once related one of the nightmares of his life. He had been a high school student at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 when the school was desegregated by court order. One morning, the students were summoned to the school gym. To drown out the speaker, students broke [Read More…]

Bad Theology=Bad Politics

I hear an undercurrent of assumption in much of the current liberal rhetoric—a mythology that progressives can best do without. That is the assumption that our present turn toward authoritarianism has somehow only temporarily interrupted American social progress. This assumption is more of that good ol’ “onward and upward forever” mythology that progressives have held [Read More…]

Meaning, Purpose, and Individualism: Thinking Our Way Out of Self-Reliance 

We human beings appear to be the only animals that become confused about our meaning and purpose. Cats don’t appear to forget their cat purpose; horses reclaim their own meaning and purpose as soon as the harness is removed. It appears that only human beings get confused about meaning and purpose. Humanity has devised many [Read More…]

A Toolkit for Resisting Totalitarianism 

For my money the philosopher Hannah Arendt offers the most profound analysis of the causes of totalitarianism. During and after the Second World War, Arendt spent a lot of time researching and thinking about totalitarianism and wrote such classics as The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. [Read More…]

Working for Posterity

Sir Boyle Roche was an eighteenth century Irish politician known even today because of his unfortunate turns of phrase. He was the master of mixed metaphors. He once said, “Mr Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I’ll nip him in the bud.” Sir Roche [Read More…]

The True Origin Story

February 12th is the 208th birthday of Charles Darwin. In celebration, I want to look at a couple of extracts from his writing. The first is from The Descent of Man, published in 1871: As man (sic) advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual [Read More…]