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...]

Flying Over the Squares (for small farmers)

The little towns in their squares light up, as do the scattered lights of farmyards in the tilting, fuzzy squares they’re locked in.   I balance a Chilian red on a bumpy flight out to one of those squares.   The West is red too, after we bump to a cruising altitude through clouds threatening [Read More...]

A Gift, A Letter, and a Drowning Man: The Legacy of “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

There’s an old Zen story that does like this:   Once there was a great warrior. He had never been defeated, and he continued to win every confrontation into old age. He was known far and wide as the only warrior who had never suffered a defeat. This of course was a challenge to younger [Read More...]

What A Miracle Is

  Once I crossed the Sierra Madres with a bus driver named Arturo who had one arm and a stick-shift bus.   Sometimes between the the shift and wheel Arturo’s good right arm would pause to make the sign of the cross toward a portrait of the Virgin that banged the windshield from a string. [Read More...]

Sometimes It Takes A Lie

Sometimes it takes a lie to keep a religion. “It’s merely a game,” they told the priests–”how we fast for days, then cut a tall pole to climb. How we costume and dance. It means nothing, how we chant in circles and bleed chickens. How we climb and fly round and around in air. Come, [Read More...]

Empty Suitcase

The cat snuggles down into my empty suitcase, out to fill for a trip. She   knows something’s up. It’s a bed, she insists. A warm place, even an   instrument of stasis. I let her nestle there, passing on to other   bustling that needs doing, done. That I’ve lived out of a suitcase [Read More...]

Another Reason for the Season

There’s a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons – That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes – Heavenly Hurt, it gives us – We can find no scar, But internal difference, Where the Meanings, are – Emily Dickinson   “Yule” (jul) means “wheel” in Norse. The Norse looked at this time of year, facing the darkest and longest [Read More...]


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