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…]

People Who Have Come ALIVE!

  What makes you come alive my friend? This week I grateful to bear witness to people coming alive in the world: The Swarm, our affectionate nickname for the group of Unitarian Universalists from two congregations in Massachusetts who have been coming to New Orleans for service every November since Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood [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…]

Words, Words, and the Word Was With . . .

In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare has the character Polonius ask Hamlet, “What do you read, My Lord?” “Words, words,” Hamlet replies. Polonius says, “But what is the matter, my lord?” “Between who?” “I mean the matter that you read, my lord.” “Matter.” Shakespeare loved words that cut two ways. “Matter,” as in what’s the matter? [Read More…]

Why Does a Super-Nice Word Like “Spiritual” Make Humanists All Itchy?

Here is what Plato had to say about the body and the soul: Does not purification consist in this . . . in separating as much as possible the soul from the body, and in accustoming it to gather and collect itself by itself on all sides apart from the body, and to dwell, so [Read More…]

Things that get in the way

I often tell the story of the time my Chaplain Supervisor told me, “Deanna, I wish you would stop being so hard on yourself” (She paused here and I had a moment to think sweetly “Oh, she really cares about me.” This tenderness quickly faded as she continued) – “because then you would stop being [Read More…]

Death of the Curate

Art museums are currently going through a sea change, and that sea change is about the difference between access and curating. Now, obviously, as in most either/or binaries, the answer is actually both/and, but binaries help us get clarity in our thinking.  Think of the old model of art museums: they served a curatorial function: [Read More…]

Putting First Things First: Congregations of Philosophers

In 1931 the Humanist Unitarian minister Curtis Reese looked into his crystal ball and wrote that society was moving “away from religion conceived as one of man’s concerns, and toward religion conceived as man’s one concern.” Why would a Humanist foresee religion becoming more, not less, central as a human concern? (Note that Reese had [Read More…]

Looking For #Happiness, Epicurean Style

Who doesn’t want to be happy? Everybody wants to be happy. The trouble starts when we begin the search for happiness. Will that big slice of cheese cake make me happy? How about a new car? A new partner? How about a big move to somewhere else, anywhere but here? Nope. Those don’t do much [Read More…]

Musing On Relevance

I meet monthly with clergy colleagues, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian of various stripes, all of whom are leaders of urban, liberal congregations. We clergy—and most of our members—do not see our own way as the only way. We believe that dialogue is the antidote to violence. None of us are fundamentalists. That said, none of [Read More…]


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