A Semi-Private Idaho and Life in the Goldilocks Zone

  Living in your own private Idaho  underground like a wild potato  The B52s You’ve heard about the “Goldilocks Zone,” that temperate place where H2O exists in the form of water and scientists speculate life might exist on other planets. I think a Unitarian Universalist congregation should be a Goldilocks Zone where the free exchange [Read More...]

Seriously—Who Said We Can Choose Our Own Mysteries?

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. ~Oscar Wilde There is more than one type of mystery. Some mysteries aren’t even mysterious. For example, how a diesel engine works is a mystery to many, but only those who haven’t taken the time to look at diesel engines. They are a [Read More...]

Fallen Angels, Rising Apes, and the Knowledge of the Serpent

I. In addition to the Unitarian Universalist Seven Principles, the congregation that I serve as minister ascribes to a set of aspirational statements that  are specifically humanist. Our first Aspiration is, “To live joyfully and ethically, in loving, reverent relationship with humanity and nature.” Why do we say such a thing? Because we are countering [Read More...]

Sin Isn’t Very Original: Dostoyevsky and the Freedom to Really Mess Things Up

I have a terrible confession: almost all of the calories I consume in a day, I consume after 8pm. No, I don’t cook extravagant dinners late at night. Far from it. I eat junk. I’m not proud of it. I know that eating late at night is the worst sort of thing for my health. [Read More...]

Nature, Nurture, Murder: The Lessons of the Eugenics Craze

In the world of super heroes, it’s called an “origin story,” that trauma that led to the super hero being super. Poor little Bruce Wayne watches helplessly as his parents are murdered. Superman rockets off the planet Krypton, sent away by his father moments before the planet explodes, only to find himself in Kansas where [Read More...]

Of Time and the Nebulous

Someday, they say, stars will stop   gelling—the hydrogen and   helium gone. Someday, each   star will call it a day & go to bits.   Someday the day will be as dark as   night, the hydrogen, the helium snuffed.   Someday, in, oh, say, ten billion billion years,   time will eddy & stop. Someday [Read More...]

How Unitarian Universalists Do Church

I suppose everybody has a favorite founding document for a religion or a nation. Mine is “Farewell at Delfshaven,” a sermon given by Rev. John Robinson to a group of his Separatist congregation who were taking ship for the Western Hemisphere. Part of the sermon goes like this:   I Charge you before God and [Read More...]

Spiritual Practice for Skeptics

I tend to get it from both sides when I talk about spiritual practice: many of my fellow skeptics blanch at the word “spiritual.” And many Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Sufis, and what-have-yous seem to think that rationality and spiritual practice are at loggerheads. But humanists value connectedness and experience wonder just like everyone else. As [Read More...]

Apocalypse Never (and what we can do about it)

I grew up in the Pentecostal church. When I was ten, I knew just how the world would end: “the fire next time.” Tribulations. Seven seals. The four horsemen. Rainstorms of blood and fire. And what was more, this was coming any day now: the present terrible state of the world had been precisely prophesied [Read More...]

A Scream and a Theory: Natural Selection and the Higher Moral Order

Scientific theories do not occur in a vacuum. Like poems or paintings, theories reflect the times and characters or their authors. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, far from being a stark and cold scientific theory, was—and continues to be—an impassioned cry for equality and justice. A cry far more grounded and stirring than anything available [Read More...]


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