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…]

Building Walls, Banning the Human 

“Blame is a valuable antidote to helplessness.” Martha Nussbaum I spent last Monday morning in a multi-faith press conference where the subject was the recent immigration ban by the Trump administration. We heard from Muslims, Jews, and Christians. All read scriptures concerning how “the stranger” is to be treated. All agreed that “god” wishes the [Read More…]

Alternative Facts and Reason in Religion

  There are no alternative facts. There are alternative theories when we don’t know the facts. There are alternative ways of looking at interpreting the facts. But there are no alternative facts. I say this as someone who is not scientifically trained. I’m a poet and a minister. But I know that artists and ministers [Read More…]

“Great Men” and the Tide of History

“Hindsight is 20/20” goes the cliche. And in my experience a lot of people want to say “I told you so.” I have to say I’m a terrible pundit—over and over in the last US presidential election cycle I predicted the meltdown of Donald Trump. I was wrong every time. I got it completely wrong [Read More…]

America’s deadly theological crisis

My special holiday guest blogger is Rev. Jim Foti, assistant minister at the congregation I serve. He delivered a version of this reflection over the Martin Luther King weekend. The first clear thought I had back in the wee hours of November 9th was that a lot of people are going to die. Unchecked climate [Read More…]

#Humanism, Specism, and the Baggage of Words

In a recent op ed article in The New York Times, Natasha Lennard and Cary Wolfe asked the question “is humanism really humane?” (see link below) While the authors rightly point out that the term “humanism” has many meanings, Natasha Lennard falls into the fallacy of equating humanism with specism. But before we look at [Read More…]