Invocation in a time of sorrow

Tomorrow morning in the congregation I serve, we will open our worship for all ages with these words: There are a lot of good and beautiful things in our world. There are a lot of scary things in our world. Sometimes we feel great joy and a lot of hope. Sometimes we are brokenhearted and [Read More…]


For months, we were barraged with a national narrative of a “razor tight” presidential race. (What kind of mixed metaphor is “razor tight” anyway?) But it turned out to be not so close after all. Indeed, some paid attention to voices that were saying all along it would be close, but not so very close, [Read More…]

Democracy and faith

Religious faith consists of our most deeply held values. It is the summation of what is of greatest importance to us, our ultimate commitments. But those commitments are expressed in many different ways, through many different aspects of our lives; they have to be if those commitments really are ultimate commitments. So of course, our [Read More…]

Love Is the Spirit of This Church

“Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law.” So begins a well-beloved passage adapted from the words of the Rev. James Vila Blake, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Evanston, Illinois. These words are often spoken in the life of our faith. Several of the congregations I’ve served spoke them communally every [Read More…]


“The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.” Dean Acheson (attrib.)   We are accustomed to regard a person’s circumstances when we consider his or her level of suffering. Certainly certain conditions are more conducive to despair than others. Inmates in a concentration [Read More…]

The Noblest Deed

One hundred and fifty years ago today, President Lincoln issued a Preliminary Proclamation that mandated the emancipation of all slaves in Confederate territory that did not return to the Union by January 1 of the following year. It was the beginning of the end of one of the greatest blots upon the face of liberty, [Read More…]


In religion as well as in politics (and probably in innumerable other realms of human endeavor as well), any seeker after truth and meaning can be bombarded with an incomprehensibly vast heap of supposed facts and truths. It is very easy to encounter a multiplicity of voices which appear to assert, with the utmost confidence, [Read More…]


The furor over Rep. Todd Akin’s astonishingly irresponsible and oft-quoted remarks this week has once again thrown a complex moral, religious, legal and personal controversy in our country into stark relief, the question of abortion. It seems to me that the burning question about abortion in the United States is not primarily about whether or [Read More…]

In solidarity with our Sikh sisters and brothers

This past Sunday’s horrific shooting at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple just outside Milwaukee is more than just news headlines to Unitarian Universalists. It took place just a week after the four-year anniversary of an unnervingly similar crime, the killing of two and wounding of seven on July 27, 2008 at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian [Read More…]

Context and interpretation

In matters of interpretation, it’s important for us to try to understand context. This is an essential assumption inherent in a liberal religious outlook. Religious liberalism tends to discourage an enthusiasm for absolutes and universals, embracing instead a sense that the milieu in which something comes into being is almost always relevant in some way. [Read More…]