Swimming in the Christian Waters (or: Beware, You May be a Humanist)

Let’s say you find yourself living in, oh, let’s say the United States. It’s a country where something on the order of seventy-five percent of the population claims to be Christian. Let’s say you don’t believe in any other religion, either: you aren’t Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i, or any other of the myriad religions [Read More...]

Rejoice?

First, gather friends and family. Together, build a structure with at least three sides. Roof it with bamboo or cornstalks, anything you can cut from the ground. Remember to leave spaces where the stars can shine through. Dwell in this place for a week. “Dwelling” includes eating, talking, singing, napping, reading, relaxing, entertaining, all that [Read More...]

Who’s In and Who’s Out of Institutions (and the immigrants between)

The British social anthropologist Mary Douglas had this to say about institutions: Inside a religious body you get sects and hierarchies, inside an information network you get bazaars and cathedrals, it is the same, call them what you like. They survive by pointing the finger of blame at each other. That about sums it up, [Read More...]

Season of Forgiveness

Reflecting on his experience as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, the International Military Tribunal established at the end of WWII, Bernard Meltzer wrote, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” The spiritual practice of atonement, asking and offering forgiveness, is a practice that [Read More...]

Culture Shift

There is an old and often told story of a child walking along a beach, picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. In this story, an adult encounters the child and proclaims, “you can’t save them all. Your work doesn’t make a difference.” Replies the child, continuing in her labor “I [Read More...]

UU Verbs

I had the honor of spending this week with a dozen youth who chose to spend the first week of August in New Orleans. So you already know that they are brave. You should also know that they are leaders and followers, conveners and collaborators, organizers and educators. But this isn’t a note about nouns. [Read More...]

Keep the Faith!

In his story of a man with a sneering wife, Sufi master Rumi begins: A special guest was coming to visit and the man worked 200 days to earn the price for the quality lamb kabob he wished to serve this guest. On the appointed day, the man bought the meat and brought it home [Read More...]

Embodied Justice, Embodied Speech

Beloveds, let us have a common vocabulary. In the midst of the conversation on race prompted by the verdict of the Zimmerman trial, allow me to point us toward the 4 I’s of Oppression, spelled out clearly here by YouthBuild USA:    – https://youthbuild.org/sites/youthbuild.org/files/Four%20Is.pdf Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal, and Internalize Oppression.  Recognize that racism operates on many levels in [Read More...]

Stand Your Ground

George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. Apparently he was allowed to “stand his ground” against a young man whom he deemed dangerous by virtue of the fact that the boy was African-American and wearing a hoodie. Trayvon, it seems, was not allowed to stand his ground against the man who was stalking him, [Read More...]

Weeding Out Racism

I’m a gardener in the upper Midwest, so in July I spend a lot of time pulling up weeds. Just yesterday, along with a lot of other stuff, I probably pulled up a couple of hundred tiny maple trees, growing from the ‘helicopter blades’ that spin to the ground from my neighbor’s maple each spring. [Read More...]


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