#Apatheism

This year First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis is celebrating a century of humanism. Rev. John Dietrich, often called the father of religious humanism, was called as minister to the congregation in 1916. Dietrich had already been tried for heresy and had declared himself humanist in his previous congregation, so the folks in Minneapolis knew what [Read More…]

Redefining #Religion: You Might Be a Religious Naturalist

  The Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion defines religion this way: From the Latin relegare (“to bind fast”), typically the term refers to an institution with a recognized body of communicants who gather together regularly for worship, and accept a set of doctrines offering some means of relating the individual to what is taken to [Read More…]

Some Slack for the Tense on the Holidays

I know, I know—some people just love the holiday season—“the hap-, hap-, happiest time of the year” and all that. Good for you. Some of us don’t feel so well this time of year. Perhaps it is the prohibitive distance to visit loved ones; perhaps it is grief over lost loved ones; perhaps it’s that [Read More…]

Why Would Anyone Want to be a Minister?

My mother says I was born serious. Could be. For example, I remember that when I was six or seven one of the neighborhood kids slapped me. I turned the other cheek. Because . . . well, I went to Sunday school is why. I was a serious kid. (Or at least a kid who [Read More…]

Do Your Religion a Favor: Live Up to Its Principles 

I meet monthly with the Downtown Senior Clergy of Minneapolis. This week we listened to one of the imams in the group describing increasing violence toward Muslims. Last weekend cars in the masjid’s parking lot were spray painted and otherwise damaged. Women wearing the hijab have been sworn at and confronted in public spaces. Muslim [Read More…]

Fear, Hope, and Hell In A Hand Basket

I learned to type on a manual typewriter. There’s wasn’t an exclamation point (!) on typewriters. In order to type that character, one had to type a period (.) then backspace, then type an apostrophe. Needless to say, as someone who typed at the breakneck speed of fifteen words a minute, I didn’t use all [Read More…]

Grace for the Rest of Us

Grace. Some say it before meals. Some have it for a name. Grace-ful people have grace in abundance. It’s also theological concept, and that’s where I run into trouble. When people learn that I’m not a theist, I’m sometimes told in a very knowing way that only theists have a theory of grace. The reason [Read More…]

#Terrorism: Religion and Nationalism Aren’t Fixing It

Nothing like a crisis to clarify values. If the terrorist attacks in Paris have clarified the dominant values of Western civilization, those appear to be such things as self-absorption, border restrictions, and violence. These are the values of nationalism, not Humanism. Sure, it’s true that Paris is the world’s number one tourist destination, so lots [Read More…]

The “Trinsics”: Where are You Coming From?

Psychologist Gordon Allport argued that there are two types of religious experience—the extrinsic and the intrinsic. Extrinsic religious orientation has little to do with religion and lots to do with social norms, rules, and regulations. Allport said extrinsic orientation functions “to provide security and solace, sociability and distraction, status and self-justification.” This sort of religion [Read More…]

Congregational Humanist Liturgy: Creating a Religion-Neutral Zone

The Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi (370-287 BCE) told this story: Once three friends were discussing life. One said: “Can people live together and know nothing of life, work together and produce nothing? Can people fly around in the air and forget to exist, forever and ever?” The three friends looked at each other and burst out [Read More…]


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