#Baltimore and the Failure of Human Flourishing

HONESTY DOESN’T RULE Huffington Post called the president’s remarks on the Baltimore uprising “the most honest fifteen minutes of Obama’s presidency.” What did Obama get honest about? He said, In those environments, if we think that we’re just gonna send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there, without [Read More...]

My Tribe by Alberto Blanco: A Way to Belong

In celebration of National Poetry Month, a translation from the great Mexican poet Alberto Blanco. In a few short sentences, Blanco excludes exclusion. My Tribe From lake to lake, from forest to forest: “Which is my tribe?” —I wonder— “What is my place?”  Perhaps I belong to the tribe of those who have no tribe; [Read More...]

What’s in the Way is the Way: Stoicism and the Spaces Between

I sit at the roadside; The driver changes the wheel. I don’t like where I’m coming from. I don’t like where I’m going. Why do I watch this wheel change Impatiently? This poem, by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, catches that feeling of being in-between. In process. In liminal space. We all know about [Read More...]

Reason is Dead; Long Live . . . Advanced Hindsight

JUSTICE IS A SNACK AWAY Justice. It may be a meal best served cold, but not on an empty stomach. Israeli Neuroscientist and business professor Shai Danziger studied the correlation between food and the likelihood that a judge will grant prisoners parole. In the morning, just after breakfast, the chances of parole are high—around sixty-five [Read More...]

#RFRA, Soapy Cilantro, and Tasty Gods

(Or: A Little Demonstration of What Religious Freedom Looks Like) POLARIZATION Cilantro. It’s a polarizing vegetable. Many love it. Many hate it. For some, it is just the fresh touch needed to make Mexican and Thai cuisine perfect. For others, cilantro tastes like Ivory Soap. An unbridgeable chasm, it would appear. Three genes have been [Read More...]

Religious Arguments: Where Are the Grownups?

RABBITS In November of 1726 news reached London that a physician had assisted a woman named Mary Tofts as she gave birth to . . . a rabbit. The rabbit, unfortunately, died. Mary Tofts got quite a lot of attention. And even more attention when she gave birth to yet another rabbit—or, well, at least [Read More...]

The Transient, the Permanent, and the Stitching Horse: What Remains True in Religions

When I was a kid, I loved wandering in the barn on my grandfather’s farm. The barn had been built around a two-story log house. In the loft of the barn was a jumble of old farming equipment. My favorite piece of equipment there was what was known as a stitching horse. This was a [Read More...]

Humanism and a Theology of Liberation (Without Strangling Priests)

Humanism does not require the death of God. All it requires is the affirmation of human freedom. William R. Jones ONE OF THOSE VICIOUS CIRCLES The French philosopher Denis Diderot, an Enlightenment era humanist, gets my vote for the most succinct summary of the connection between government, religion, and oppression: “People will never be free [Read More...]

Selma Plus Fifty: Time For an Eight-Lane Bridge

WHERE ONLY BLACK MEN JAYWALK We are rightly celebrating the bravery of people—both the famous and the forgotten—who contributed to the events at Selma, Alabama fifty years ago, events that led to a sea change in the civil rights of many US citizens. The anniversary has led inevitably to a question: Are things better now? [Read More...]

Religious Humanism: What Was Old is New Again

Church Attendance Free Fall The Barna Group, a research group that keeps up with trends in religion, estimates that 48% of Millennials (born 1984-2002) are “post-Christian.” Forty-eight percent. “Post-Christian” means that they have heard of Christianity; know its claims; swim in its assumptions; and have little to no interest in it as a method for [Read More...]