The Lure of Our Worst Natures

I think you could argue that if we characterized candidates for the presidency in Freudian terms, that Hillary Clinton would come out as the ego—rational, measured, pragmatic—and Bernie Sanders as the superego—idealistic, moralistic, principled. But there can be no doubt as to who perfectly plays the role of the id, the instinctual, passionate, utterly self-centered [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…]

Instructions for the New Year

Beloveds, as we prepare for the new year, I invite you to take a deep breath in and hold it for a moment and let it out.  Think back to this past year, to your lived experience and the stories you absorbed.  Remember the grief and the joy, the rage and the resistance. Remember that [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…]

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…]

Fear Not

“The one most frequently repeated command in the Bible is not “love your neighbor,” but “fear not.” And if there is one thing that we need in our world, if there’s one thing that we should write on our mirror and see every morning when we look into the mirror, it’s “fear not.” If we [Read More…]

Helping Black Lives Matter at the White Thanksgiving Table

Apparently, some people are hoping for Adele to come to their Thanksgiving dinner and soothe angry arguments between family members. For the rest of us, preparing for tough conversations is one way to make them a little less difficult. One of those conversations in many families this year will be about the Black Lives Matter [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…]

In the Face of Evil

So much heartbreak, so many dead, so many injured. This is what evil looks like—people who would willingly, even eagerly, fire into a crowd or into a plane, who would even use their own body as bomb. Evil lurks in the eyes of those who would look full in the face of another human being [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…]